Stephanie DiNardi - 2015 Program Participant

The Pantheon in Rome, Italy

The obligatory pose in front of the Pantheon in Rome

How did you decide to study abroad?

I had always had an interest in seeing different parts of the country and learning about the different cultures that you can encounter when you're in a foreign land. I had been to Mexico before, for a few days on a family vacation, but apart from that I had never had the opportunity to actually integrate myself into a different culture. So, I decided that going abroad would be a great way to spend a few months in Europe experiencing what life was like in the EU.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Rome?

My great grandparents are from Italy, so growing up I had always heard stories about it and felt connected to it. I chose Rome, even though my family is from Naples, because I was really interested in the history located in Rome. After seeing movies and taking classes on it, I thought that it would be really cool to connect the places that I had heard and read about to real life. Plus, Rome to Naples is a quick trip, so I liked that I could also see my family's history.

What was your favorite part about Rome?

My favorite part about Rome is that there are so many different things to do and learn about. By the end of the semester, I still felt like there were a ton of things that I wanted to cram in before I left, which is amazing considering I was there for about 120 days. I also really appreciated my walk to school, because IES Abroad was located in such a central part of Roma that I was able to see so much of the city just by walking to school.

St. Marys Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy

A view of St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

What made your international program experience unique?

I think that Italy is so unique in itself, because the culture is unlike any of the places I visited while I was abroad. It was a total culture shock to me, but I loved it because the more I learned, the more I felt like I was actually fitting in. Another thing that made this program unique were the classes. I really loved that every time we learned about something, we could go see it in person.

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

I really appreciated the way that the IES Abroad staff would send us emails every week with a different update as to what was going on around Roma. That combined with the different activities they planned each week were just a great way to get to participate in things around Roma, that I may not have done if they had not suggested it. I also felt very safe because the staff was always there for any medical needs I may have had and their emails warned about events we would want to stay away from.

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

I wish that I would have traveled a little more in the beginning of the semester, because I felt like there were more places that I wanted to go, but I guess I will just have to come back to do that!

What was a typical day like for you in London?

Typically, I would wake up and walk 30 to 40 minutes to class (a totally beautiful walk because I lived in Monteverde and got to walk by Gianicolo every day). Depending on the day, class would last until 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. After class I would either spend my time walking around Roma, getting lost in cute little shops or different sites, or I would go home so that I could go for a run at Villa Pamphili. During the week I made myself dinner, but on weekends, I usually tried to eat at different restaurants or do apertivo. After dinner I would hang out with friends around Roma or go out to Trastevere or Testaccio.

What was your favorite thing to do on your free time?

I loved to go for runs at Villa Pamphili, it was just such a beautiful place. I also liked to watch the sunset from the top of Gianicolo or get cannoli from the little bakery down the street from my apartment.

Gondola ride in Venice, Italy

Enjoying a gondola ride down the canals of Venice

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I had an apartment with an ISC, Clara. I lived in Monteverde with eight girls total and they were all totally awesome. I really lucked out with this apartment because I loved the location of it. Even though it was further away from everyone else, I actually felt like I got to experience more parts of Roma because of this. I loved that my house was a 10 minute walk from Villa Pamphili, because I love to run. I also really liked living with Clara, because she was extremely helpful, funny, and kind.

How has studying abroad impacted your life?

Being abroad has taught me how to go with the flow and be prepared for anything that may be thrown my way. Everything is not going to go my way, but I feel more relaxed about that and am better prepared to accept that. I also feel as though I see different social issues within the U.S. differently because I have seen how different countries handle them.