I decided to study abroad because I’ve always been fascinated with traveling, embracing and exploring cultures that were different from my own ( Afro-Haitian American), and I also had been learning Italian for two semesters so it was only appropriate to go abroad to practice the language.
The program was affordable, the staff were helpful, and knowledgeable. The program consisted of housing, excursions, and they were always there to help us with any of our concerns. Plus all together it cost less for me to study abroad than it did for my out of state tuition at my home UNI. Ain't that cray?!
The exchange program made arrangements with my host university for payments, all together the exchange program was cheaper than my in state tuition (insane right?). Yet the experience abroad was by far more gratifying, increased my sense of self, and left me with lifelong knowledge. I took out loans to pay for the program and the reminder I paid in cash.
I wished I had known of more of the local tips, (i.e. places to shop while on a budget) though I took advantage of the tips I learned while living in Italy, I still feel like I could of saved more money and had more bang for my bucks had I had more insider tips.
No, none at all it was the complete opposite. One, I wasn't viewed as black while I was in Italy, I was seen as "donna" or " ragazza" (woman/ girl) which is completely different from how I am viewed in the the American context, because of the racial history... This was interesting. The men and women that lived in the neighborhood and throughout Rome had not seen many or any Afro-Americans/ Afro-Haitians so they were really curious about me, many of them admired me (they expressed this ALL THE TIME by complementing my natural hair and African features and they emphasized how nice my brown skill looked). Though I've read horror stories about Persons of Color experiences from xenophobes and blatant racial/sexual discrimination while in Italy I was fortunate to not have experienced any of that during my stay.
One of the most memorable moments of studying abroad was me meeting my boyfriend (3 years ago, and soon to be husband ;) ) while I was there. The story of our first encounter is a real slice out of real life love story, a little corny too, however, random it may sound, but I am grateful that I was where I was on that day that we met; and that I was curious enough to hear him and his friend out (his friend was the one to approach me by the way, ladies/ men be mindful to the wingman, you might just find your next man!).
Rome in itself is always full of stimulation, be it the street art, the eccentric fashion styles, the friendly locals, or the endless array of discotecas (dance clubs & lounges) and sport venues. Rome is a mecca, it has everything there for everyone; my friends and I always went out during the evenings it was great, Italians enjoy dancing, and they’ve got places to hang out for everyone both for adults and young adults.
Studying abroad has helped me to an extent that is unbarred to anything else. I’ve improved my Italian comprehension while I was there (I still speak and comprehend it today), I also was taken out of my comfort zone throughout the entire four months that I lived there however there was NEVER a dull moment or a period where I felt unsecure or unsafe; the experienced increased my knowledge on the mechanisms of international politics, the importance of daily interactions, and my understanding of how significant ethnicity and cultural identities are in a global sense.
Yes I would, API is affordable, credible, and the staff are polite and knowledgeable. Before I selected them I did my due diligence and checked out other exchange programs but many of the ones I had saw seemed to be out for students’ money, or were complete hawks, I was happy throughout my entire time abroad. The exchange program provided us with excursions, housing options, and provided a strong network for any of our concerns (health, transitioning to life abroad, etc.) all of which was very beneficial.
DO IT! Especially if you are student of color; the experiences you will learn abroad CANNOT be learned in books or from watching BBC or international films/series, take the first step to learning about a foreign culture, you might be surprised at how affordable many of those programs can be and trust me- you will feel much more confident in yourself post your study abroad experience.