Actually Studying During Study Abroad? Believe it.

We all know the rumor: “studying abroad doesn’t really require studying!”

Of course, that is at least what I had the notion of when I decided to study abroad. In the past month and a half of being abroad, however, I have been proven wrong to an extent. That is, I do have classes and attendance for all of my courses is mandatory. I have exams, and yes, I have essays to write.

I believe that my experience at SDSU as a student has prepared me well enough to take my studies abroad. It has also prepared me to balance study and travel, and BOY have I been traveling!

My course schedule in Verona is much different than my schedule in San Diego.

Every week, the dates of my courses change. For example: On Monday this week, I had class from 2-4 p.m. (Italian language), whereas on Monday next week, I have Italian again from 2-4 and then Renaissance Art from 4:15-7:15. Further, each of my courses except Italian only take place once a week for three hours each meeting.

This is traditionally different from our course schedules in the United States, which are set in stone and not as flexible to professor and student needs.

I also very rarely have class scheduled on Fridays, which has given me a lot of freedom for travel within Italy and around Europe on the weekends!

I knew that studying abroad would allow me to travel to different corners of the world, which is a large part of why I studied abroad in the first place. What I was not able to comprehend was the proximity of nearly every country in Western Europe.

In just about 6 weeks, I have traveled to Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany and of course different regions of Italy!

A weekend group trip in Innsbruck, Austria.
Our class field-trip to Lake Como.
Renaissance statue in Villa Carlota on Lake Como.

While managing my travel plans, I also find time to write papers for my courses and to study for exams.

It is also important that I note how interested I am in all of my courses in Verona. I am, as I have stated previously, a nutrition major, and I knew that Italy would be a wonderful place to learn about food!

Italian cuisine course: lesson on fresh pasta making.

I am able to take an Italian Cuisine course, food and culture, a course on Renaissance art, Italian language and Intercultural Communication. My professors come from all around Europe and have allowed me a unique learning experience, which I would not have been given if I did not choose to study abroad.

So, in short, there is actual studying involved in studying abroad, but it is nothing unmanageable. It is work that adds value to not only your education but also to your life experience and personal development.


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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