Looking Forward to a Semester Abroad in the City of Love and Shakespeare

Hello! My name is Marcella Anderson and I am a third year foods and nutrition major and interdisciplinary studies minor.

I am about to embark on the journey of a lifetime (hopefully), spending fall semester abroad in Verona, Italy. I am participating in an independent program through the University of Nevada Reno, and will be studying subjects such as art, food and Italian Culture. And I will be taking 14 units that will all transfer back to SDSU with me!

“I must remind myself to embrace the unknown instead of run from it, and to be present in the ancient city of Verona”

Verona is a city most famously known for being the setting of the Shakespeare play “Romeo and Juliet” — maybe you’ve heard of it?

However, along with being the setting of three of Shakespeare’s plays, Verona is also a city known for its art, architecture and beautiful rivers. The city sits just an hour or two inland from Venice in northeastern Italy at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains. I am expecting a gorgeous fall and a chilly winter (which will be a bit of a change from the San Diego sunshine).

As I get ready to leave the United States — not only for a semester abroad, but also for my first time outside the country — I am caught in a constant state of excitement and fear.

The fear I hold is not fear of leaving the country or not being able speak the language. Nor is it a fear of homesickness or loneliness (although all of those would be valid things to be nervous about).

Instead, I am afraid that time will move too quickly during these next four months. I am afraid that I won’t have enough time to fully engage in the Italian culture, travel throughout the ancient Roman Empire, or learn and challenge myself academically.

In reality, fear will only hold me back during this journey — something I must keep reminding myself.

Instead, I must ask myself to turn my emotions of fear and nervousness into emotions of wonder and excitement. I must remind myself to embrace the unknown instead of run from it, and to be present in the ancient city of Verona.

All of this, I suppose, is easier said than done.

I have been dreaming of spending a semester abroad since I watched my older sister do it when I was in high school. I think that being able to watch someone else’s experience — to hear how much she loved it and how she did it — really helped me feel confident enough to embark on this journey.

I have heard from so many of my peers who are scared to consider a semester abroad or who don’t know how to go about it. I hope that through writing about my experiences, I can help other SDSU students feel like they can study abroad too! I cannot wait to study abroad and to explore new parts of myself and the world, and to share that with the community back home that has made it possible for me have these experiences!

I think it’s fitting (though cliche) that I end this post with one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes:

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”

– William Shakespeare

Hopefully this coming fall I can discover not only who I am, but who I may be.


Marcella Anderson is a foods and nutrition major with a minor in interdisciplinary studies through the Weber Honors College. She is studying abroad during fall semester at IUSVE University in Verona, Italy.


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