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Tia Peschon '13
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
My study abroad experience was one of the most unbelievable and life changing experiences in my life thus far, however getting ready to go abroad and adjusting to life in a foreign country proved more difficult than expected. The combination of initial adjustment challenges and the success of my journey and experience as a whole provide a great resource for prospective study abroad students and I would love nothing more than to share my experience and advice with others.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
My family, friends, and especially my French professor all expected me to choose a study abroad location in France, as I have experience in both speaking French and traveling the country. However, I chose to study abroad in Rome, Italy. I felt strongly about studying in a country that I had yet to visit. I wanted my study abroad experience to be something new, unique, and special. I have always wanted to spend time in Italy, however my family travels have always brought me to France. While I lacked knowledge of Italy, of Rome, of the Italian language, and the Italian culture, I was able to adjust to life in Rome and soon learned to love the culture and the city. I achieved my overall goal of becoming familiar with an entirely new and foreign place, with the added bonus of falling head over heels for Rome.
Defining Moment Abroad?
One of the most memorable moments of my abroad experience would have to be the weekend I spent in Greve in Chianti, a small town outside of Florence, Italy. I was invited by family friends to participate in their annual olive harvest and I immediately accepted. What better way to immerse one's self in a culture than to participate in the creation of such a staple in Italian cuisine? After spending a full day picking and collecting olives, I was able to witness each step of the production of olive oil from the very olives I had picked. This trip had a great impact on me, for it was the first trip I took entirely on my own. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be planning trips and traveling throughout Italy on my own - successfully - I would not have believed them. Not only did studying abroad build my confidence in being independent, I continuously surprised myself by my abilities as an independent. My decision to participate in the olive harvest and to travel independently in Italy was solely based on my desire to be a part of this annual Italian tradition, to further immerse myself in the culture, and to take advantage of all opportunities, and I have a jar of olive oil, oil that I made, in my cabinet to remind me of the experience.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
I think it is extremely important to choose your program and location wisely. I would advise researching and thoroughly looking into all options so that an informed decision can be made. This is precisely why I am applying to be an ambassador. I believe it is a great resource for students looking to go abroad. Similar to applying to college, it is important for one to know what he or she is looking for in a program and a location (for example, whether or not they want a home-stay). The more research that is done and the more that is known about the program and location upon arrival the better.