From Milan, With Love
Location: The Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
International relations major and economics minor Meredith Andrews ’15 says she loves the thrill of experiencing a country for the first time and how it leaves you spellbound. Because her major requires her to spend a semester in a foreign country, she knew from the start that studying abroad would be in the cards for her.
Andrews chose to study in Italy because the ease of travel to surrounding countries from there. Every weekend was filled with adventures: most students didn’t have classes on Fridays, so she and her friends had the opportunity to visit Ireland, London, Paris, Barcelona, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, the French Alps, and most of Italy. “Seeing all of these amazing places furthered my love for travel and stoked my interest in learning about other places I have not yet visited.”
The Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore where Andrews studied is nothing like Washington College. As the largest private university in Europe, it has 14 campuses and enrolls more than 41,000 students. The main campus is located in the heart of the city of Milan, and students take the metro just to get to school. Meredith loved living in the city and learning the Italian ways, but attending UCSC made her miss and appreciate certain aspects of Washington College too.
She spent her first three weeks at the Universita Cattolica taking an intensive Italian language course that provided students with the basics of Italian. Every day, they would practice the language for four hours, which was extremely helpful to Andrews, who didn’t know a single world of Italian. “Throughout the course, I slowly noticed myself being able to order in Italian, ask for help or even ask for directions. The course was crucial to my survival in Italy. It also helped me realize what it means to live in a foreign country and how hard it is to learn a new cultural lifestyle. Italians can often pick out the Americans in a crowd, but we learned to successfully ‘blend in.’”
Her classes at UCSC were offered through the international curriculum, so all of her classes were taught in English. Her favorite course, an anthropology class called “Reading Milan,” had only 25 students and introduced her to the various sectors of Milan through field trips, readings, and documentaries. “I appreciated the chance to get to know the area I was living in and the opportunities it afforded.”
Traveling to other countries taught Andrews a great deal about herself: “I’ve learned that you probably should do a little research before stepping into a foreign country. I’ve learned that sleeping in an airport is not fun. I’ve learned that you have to be careful about your choices because sometimes they could lead you into sticky situations. I am a pro at packing a carry-on suitcase and I also am a pro at sleeping anywhere and everywhere.” These life lessons may not exactly help her in the work force, but Andrews believes that immersing yourself into a different culture allows you to discover who you are. “My travels forced me to become a confident woman able to face the world head-on, and that’s not something any class can teach.”