Samantha MacAvoy - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I think it is so important to learn about other cultures; it gives you perspective and a more global outlook. I wanted to learn what it's like to live in a culture completely different from my own.

Villa D'Este in Tivoli, Italy
At Villa D'Este in Tivoli

Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Rome?

I knew that I wanted to go to Italy, so I looked at programs in Italy that Fordham recommends. There are only a handful, so I was able to narrow it down to just a few. I ended up choosing IES Abroad in Rome because I wanted to be right in the city center, and I wanted a program that offered a home stay.

What was your favorite part about your program?

My favorite part was living with a host family. It was unlike any experience I have ever had and it really helped me immerse myself in the Italian culture, which was my main goal for studying abroad. I looked forward to family dinner, when I got to practice my Italian speaking skills, experience a common Italian practice, and eat delicious Italian food!

What made your experiences studying abroad unique?

Living with a host family also made my experience unique. Each host family was so different and provided a new and rewarding experience for the students who chose to live with them. The moments in my homestay and the moments with my host family are what truly made me feel like I was in a completely different, and exciting, place.

Villa D'Este in Tivoli, Italy
At Villa D'Este in Tivoli

How did the local IES Abroad staff support you throughout your program?

My professors at IES Abroad were some of my favorite professors I have ever had. They supported me in a hands-off kind of way. They encouraged me to explore Rome and take free time to make the most of my experience. They really promoted independence and the value of going it alone.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

There isn't anything that I wish I had done differently; I think it is important to not regret any aspect of going abroad.

Everything that you experience while on your own in a foreign country, even the mistakes, is important and valuable to your overall experience abroad.

Describe a typical day in your life in Rome.

I would arrive for class in the morning, which would either be held in the classroom or at a historic site in the city. I enjoyed taking a lunch break with friends on the outdoor patio or wandering around the city streets in between classes. Our program did not schedule many nighttime events, so my friends and I would set out and explore Rome. There is something new to see every day!

Girls visiting Cinque Terre in Italy
At Cinque Terre

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

My favorite thing to do was something Italians call fare in giro; roughly translated, it means to go out and around town. When I had no plans, I would walk around Rome and see what I could find. It is a vast and diverse city so you will always bump into something unexpected and cool. I also loved going to cafés with a friend and chatting for hours, a classic Italian pastime.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

I lived in a homestay with a woman and her son. It was a loft-style apartment in the heart of Trastevere, one of Rome's coolest neighborhoods. My host mom's apartment was artsy, with an open, modern layout, but it was built in the 19th century, so it still had a rustic, old-world feel. The best part about my accommodation, however, was the wonderful family I got to live with!

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

It is important to know that you do not have to travel somewhere new every weekend or set out to cross as many things off a "Rome to do" list as possible. The best, most memorable moments you will have are those unplanned, serendipitous moments where you find yourself in unexpected situations.

Do not stress yourself out with constant planning; go out and let Rome reveal itself to you.

Now that you're home, how has your time in Italy impacted your life?

I was greatly impacted by the laidback Italian way of life. Living in New York, I was not used to such an easygoing approach to life, so Italy really changed me in that respect. Italians value their relationships with their friends and family above all, and they live happily and fully.

Girl posing in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy
In front of the Colosseum

Would you recommend IES Abroad’s Rome program to others? Why?

I would recommend IES Abroad to others because it was a very laid-back, hands-off program. There was always someone available if you needed help, but they really promoted independence and they encouraged us to conquer the Eternal City all on our own.