Meredith Watts - 2013 Program Participant

Meredith and her friend walking through the streets of Venice, Italy
Meredith and her friend walking through the streets of Venice, Italy. Photo credit to Kalie Vaughn

How did you decide to study abroad with ISA?

I started looking into programs outside of the UGA sponsored study abroad trips because I wanted to meet other students from different schools and have more freedom for traveling on the weekends, rather than a planned itinerary. I settled on ISA because it offered a wide range of cities and classes, which were all transferable to the University of Georgia. The staff at ISA was really helpful through the entire process, including setting up housing and providing some group excursions to different cities in Italy.

What is advice from your own experience studying in Rome would you share with students preparing for a program in Rome?

A semester may seem like a long time, but it goes by quicker than you can imagine. Explore Rome as much as possible and make sure you take advantage of the tours offered by ISA and the American University of Rome. The tours are a great way to meet other students while checking off main tourist attractions from your list. Outside of Rome, I suggest taking every opportunity you have to visit other cities and countries in Europe. Some of my favorite places included Barcelona, Madrid, and London.

Were you satisfied with your choice of city?

Rome is the ideal location in Europe, with two large airports and a train station that services many areas. It makes it really easy to travel for a quick weekend, rather than studying in a smaller city. It’s also big enough to keep you busy discovering new things on a daily basis, yet at the same time I feel like I learned my way around the city as a whole quite well. The food is unreal and the people couldn’t be kinder. Whether you’re in the mood for bustling streets at the Spanish Steps or a more slow-paced feel in Trastevere, Rome has it all.

What class did you enjoy most in Rome?

I really enjoyed my Introduction to Marketing class. The students in the class were all from very different places such as Italy, Egypt, India, Seychelles, and Croatia. With so much diversity in such a small group of people, it was interesting to see how the same marketing concepts are applied to each culture and environment in various ways. I gained a much better understanding of the numerous points of view, and how that must be a major influence on every marketing tactic. 

Now that you are home, and nearing the end of your undergraduate degree, what changes have you noticed studying abroad has had on your perspectives of life and other cultures?

Studying abroad really encouraged me to branch out and try new things, uninhibited by a language barrier, cultural differences, and completely unknown locations. I feel a lot more comfortable doing things on my own and not being afraid to be more independent in all things, trusting that I am capable of more. I learned that I love learning the background of each new city I visited, etching the maps of each street and small town into my mind. I have a much greater respect for the lifestyles of each country and understand the importance of holding onto traditions.