In the fall semester of 2017, 22 SHC students began their semester abroad in Bologna, Italy. They have since returned to the Hill for the spring semester of 2018, and have many new and exciting things to share. From learning more about the world to learning more about themselves, these 22 students have mixed feelings about being back at school.
Prior to leaving the United States, students said that they were eager to immerse themselves in their new lives in Bologna. “I definitely expected a completely different lifestyle, and I went in very open minded. Other than that I don’t really know what I expected,” stated junior Taylor Lewis. Others had some ideas as to what they were going to do with their semester abroad. “I expected to learn more about the world and to learn more about myself, and travel and explore,” explained junior Emma Carroll. A semester abroad met and exceeded the expectations of these 22 students.
Many students didn’t think that their triumphant return would be difficult at all. After three months abroad, the group was filled with very bittersweet emotions. While the students were excited to return to their original homes, all of them were leaving their new second homes behind. There is an endless list of things students didn’t want to leave behind. Junior Aubrey Whitten explained that she has found that she misses the independent lifestyle she led while abroad. “And the gelato,” Whitten added. “I miss the little things,” junior Emily Buck stated, “…like our morning walks into the city for class, and then exploring smaller pieces of Bologna between classes.” Bologna’s colorful variety of culture, people and architecture has left a large imprint on the hearts of the students that lived there.
Along with missing their newfound home in Italy, these students have run into personal difficulties since starting classes here at Spring Hill. Junior Caitlin Hellmers feels that her social skills have deteriorated since living in Italy. “In Italy, if you smiled to a stranger in the street, they looked at you like you were crazy,” Hellmers explained. Junior Emma Carroll agreed, and added that she felt her social skills have also “disappeared.” Most students have found that being thrown back into life at SHC has been difficult, because catching up with their friends has been a challenge.
Even though there have been some difficulties with returning, these students highly encourage anyone of any major to study abroad. Junior Brenda Carrada shared her advice for future Italy Center students, saying, “Do some research behind the migrant issues and social justice work. Be ready to meet new people and be out of your comfort zone.” Students that participate in SHC’s Italy Center usually do a substantial amount of work with migrants in Italy, especially those that live in Bologna, which sets SHC’s program apart from other study abroad programs. Junior Emily Buck encourages anyone and everyone to participate in the Italy Center, staying, “From hiking volcanoes and mountains, to swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and working with migrants, it exposes you to so many different things you would never know about.”