Name: Branden Smith
Hometown: Geneseo, Illinois
Major: Exercise Science
Where did you study abroad? Italy (Rome, Assisi, Florence and Milan)
How long were you there? 18 days over winter break
Why did you choose to study in Italy?
I have always dreamed of traveling all over the world especially Italy. Coincidentally, Rome and Christianity was one of the study abroad programs that fit in my tight schedule.
What is your favorite memory?
This is a hard question. I loved every minute of this experience. But, if I have to choose, then I would say our visit to the hometown of St. Francis in Assisi. The views from this walled medieval city were spectacular. I also got to hike up a mountain in the rain to the hermitage of St. Francis, which sounds terrible but the results were well worth it. Assisi may be the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
How did your experience abroad impact you as a person?
I got the travel bug. You hear this term a lot when you hear people talk about studying abroad, but it is definitely real. Now all I want to do is go around the world having adventures in foreign lands like we did in Italy. Every day was exciting and I was addicted to this immediately. It also made me really see how other parts of the world view the citizens of the U.S. I learned that we are just as obnoxious and rude as people think. You don't realize how loud you and your friends are until you notice everyone staring at you on an Italian subway. This trip made me appreciate and have a greater desire to learn about and experience other cultures.
What advice would you give to other students thinking about studying abroad?
Do it. There is no better time to travel than when you're young. And any study abroad program will be a far richer experience than any vacation you might take after you have a career. It gives you a much wider view of the world and experiences you will treasure for the rest of your life. You don't only learn about the place you are going, but yourself as well. College is a time for adventure, and for me, studying abroad is the best kind of adventure.
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