Horns meet world. World meet Teresa Nguyen. Teresa graduated this past May with a B.S. in Biology from UT and is currently continuing her education at the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, but before she ever graduated she participated in the IES: Rome Affiliate Program during the 2013 summer and was able to stay on track in her degree for pre-pharmacy as a Biology major. The program offers so much outside of the classroom and there are many opportunities to get in touch with the culture of Rome and Italy itself, but I’ll stop here and let Teresa share some of the highlights of her experience and the program:
I was born and raised in Texas and had never left the country before. Everyone knows that most Texans are extremely proud of their state, so I was caught off guard a bit when I arrived in Rome and immediately felt as if I belonged there.
One of the things I love most about Rome is the laid-back culture, especially in regard to how much time they spend enjoying their food. I thought I was a foodie before I studied abroad and boy, was I wrong. In Italy, it is not uncommon for lunches to last two hours but what is uncommon is the idea of to-go food. Italians want to savor their meals and enjoy the company of their friends. “La Dolce Vita”, which means “the sweet life”, is a saying that people live by and refers to the relaxed pace that is apparent everywhere you go in Italy. This is one of my favorite things about Rome, because I’m so used to being on the go constantly and trying to squeeze every last minute of the day for productivity.
My time in Rome was so much fun because I learned how to appreciate what is really important, like my loved ones, and enjoy the simple things in life.
Much to my surprise, whenever I mention that I studied abroad in Rome people will comment on how Rome is “ok” or about how it’s not their favorite city in Europe. All of these apathetic comments surprise me because Rome is one of my absolute favorite places in the world.
The reason most people were not as excited as I am about Rome is because they only spent a weekend or a week visiting the city. Rome is one of the oldest cities in the world and there is so much to do and see that trying to squeeze everything into a weekend would be overwhelming for anybody. This is why I am so glad I was able to live and study in Rome for an extended amount of time. I took an introductory Italian class and an art history class, and my classroom was always changing because I met my art history professor at the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and several other famous Roman sites.
We went on a school field trip to Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano and the Almalfi Coast, and it was included in the program fee!
I traveled to many different countries in Europe while I was abroad, but my school field trip to the southern coast of Italy was my favorite trip, because everything was planned for us including transportation, lodging, and meals. There were cool perks during the trip too like a winery and vineyard tour near the foot of Mount Vesuvius and a boat ride tour along the coast. We stayed at a beautiful hotel and overall it was such a relaxing time.
If y’all are anything like me, y’all don’t enjoy sitting in lectures where the professor just talks at you for a solid hour and a half or more. Being able to see all of these historic sites in person was so much better than being forced to read blocks of text in a book with minimal photos. I can definitely say that these lectures were the most exciting lectures of my college experience.
Everyday, I miss it and dream of the day I’ll be back. There is so much more I could say about Rome, but I am going to leave that to you to figure out when you decide to study abroad there. I promise you won’t regret it.
If you enjoyed reading about Teresa’s experience, you can find more information here: IES: Rome Affiliate Program. Be sure to check in next week to see where in the world our Horns pop up next!