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Study Abroad Spotlight: Meet Kristin Upah!

Kristin in Florence, Italy

Kristin in Florence, Italy

April 2014

Hometown: Ames, IA
Major: Theology, Behavioral Neuroscience, pre-Physical Therapy
Minor: Biology
Where did you study abroad? Italy
How long were you there? 18 days

Why did you choose to study in Italy?
As a Roman Catholic, I wanted to see and experience Rome to learn more about the development of my religion. I hoped the Rome and Christianity class would help me grow intellectually and spiritually in ways beyond the capacity of a classroom setting. Receiving academic credit toward my theology major was an added bonus.

What is your favorite memory?
I have so many; it's hard to choose only one! A moment I can still vividly remember is sitting alone in a small chapel at the Hermitage of St. Francis. I had completed a two-hour uphill trek with three other members from our group. On the way up, I had seen some of the most breathtaking sights of my life. We made it to the Hermitage just as the skies seemed to burst forth with oceans of rain. It was then that I went by myself into this little chapel. I was wet, tired, had nothing but a horribly uncomfortable bench to sit on, and could see my breath, but none of this mattered. I felt totally at one with myself, the environment, St. Francis, people, and God despite all the doubts and imperfections I could perceive. To take a realistic look at the world and still have hope and the capacity to love and be loved . . . that is true beauty.

How did your experience abroad impact you as a person?
I believe so much in the value of books I was skeptical that studying abroad could help me learn anything I couldn't get from a book for a much cheaper price. The class softened my heart and proved my skepticism to be unheeded. My prayer life and quest for knowledge were given new energy beyond my initial hopes. I enhanced my critical thinking skills and ability to analyze art and architecture. I discovered what it's like to be moved by a beautiful work of art, natural beauty, and pieces in museums that many overlook. I left with enough thoughts, questions, and experiences to ponder for a lifetime. Rome will forever remain within me. The journey is far from over.

What advice would you give to other students thinking about studying abroad?
I would tell them if they have been thinking about a study abroad experience for a while but are still skeptical as to whether the expenses are justifiable, to take a leap of faith. Chances are their hopes and expectations will be exceeded. A picture says a thousand words, but there are some things even a picture cannot capture – people must experience and see them in person.


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