Study Abroad: Living Like a Local in the beautiful city of Arezzo, Italy.
Elizabeth Ho talks about her life while studying abroad in Italy.
By Jennifer Truong, University of Oklahoma
Elizabeth Ho is currently an international business and marketing senior at the University of Oklahoma. If you know Elizabeth Ho, you know how busy she is! Between her job, her double major, four group projects due this week and volunteering with her business fraternity, she somehow found the time to answer a few questions for us at CollegeTourist about her study abroad program. Elizabeth recently spent 15 weeks in Arezzo, Italy at a study abroad program put together by the University of Oklahoma. I spoke to Elizabeth about Italy while she was there and when she got back, but I was excited to get the chance to learn more about her experience abroad.
J: Why did you choose Italy as your study abroad location and how was it overall?
E: I chose this program because it was in Italy and I knew there would be a lot of interesting history. Italy also offered a lot for fashion interested people and I appreciated that part. I absolutely enjoyed my study abroad experience in Italy but looking back I knew it was also a very different experience for me. It was my first time living out of my home country and I wanted to make sure that my program that I chose accommodated to the way I would be most comfortable living while away. The program I chose offered me to study aboard with a group of students from my school and allowed me to live in an apartment on my own.
J: What are some good sites to see?
E: I would suggest for students to visit every historic site in Rome, churches and markets in Florence, the five villages in Cinque Terre, the Grand Canal in Venice, and anything south of Rome such as Pompeii. I never got to go to Pompeii but I heard the city is beautiful and all of the history there is a must see. Venice was my favorite spot out of the five cities I suggested because it had more of an Italian atmosphere to it.
J: How did you live like a local in Arezzo?
E: I lived like a local in the way that I was able to rent my own apartment and go grocery shopping. I was limited in how I did my laundry and access to controlling the apartment temperature. I also had to walk to a lot of places. One of the rare experiences that I got to do was be an intern. I had to ride the bus in order to go to work. I paid in euros and had to speak the language when communicating with locals. I wouldn’t trade anything that I experienced for the world though because it was just so different and made me grow into a stronger person
J: What was the most amazing cultural experience you encountered while studying abroad?
E: The most amazing cultural experience I encountered was working in for an Italian business. It was interesting to see how the company operated on a daily basis. I enjoyed communicating with my co-workers in English and at times, Italian too. It was also a part of what I wanted to be doing in the future so to see the business part of things from a different perspective and culture was beyond what I thought my opportunities would offer me.
J: How has this experience impacted on your personal growth?
E: After studying aboard, I believe that I’ve grown as a stronger, more independent, fearless, and appreciative person. I had to make sure I was confident and strong when traveling around Europe by myself. I had to take care of myself with no help of family or friends while aboard so I feel a bit more independent than usual which is important to me since I am the youngest child in my family. Also, because I was traveling on my own so much, I had to learn to be fearless and tough. I didn’t let myself regret anything and I tried as much as I was able to. Being away from home for 4 months also made me appreciate how luxurious life is back home. Being alone was rough but I am glad for the experience because I know that many people don’t get the same opportunity that I got.
J: What advice or tips would you give to yourself before you went abroad?
E: My advice for others would be to save as much money as possible. The more flexibility you have you with your finances, the better your experience will be because you get to travel more and not have to worry about how much your spending all the time. More money equals more experiences and it also saves you in emergency cases. My other tip for travelers aboard would be to live life aboard with no regrets and meet as many people as you can. It’s important to keep an open mind! The possibilities are endless.