Studying in Rome with Amanda Slavinsky
This post is part of a series of interviews with travelers who have studied abroad.
Meet Amanda Slavinsky from Michigan. This University of Michigan grad is the creator of the addictive travel blog Farsickness. In 2009, she spent four months studying history and Italian at John Cabot University, an American university in Rome. Here’s what it was like.
How often did you have class? Were classes easier, more difficult or the same as you expected?
Classes at John Cabot are only scheduled Monday-Thursday which made traveling to other cities and countries on the weekend really easy. The classes were a lot easier than at my home university, the University of Michigan. I always say study abroad is more “study” abroad.
What surprised you about Italy?
The blatant disregard for rules. Americans are pretty uptight when it comes to following laws and rules, while Italians see them as more of a suggestion.
What was your favorite thing about Italy?
I loved the more relaxed, laid back lifestyle. I know this frustrated a lot of people, with not great customer service and the seemingly erratic open and close time of shops and restaurants, but it made me very comfortable. Maybe it’s the lazy in me, but I quite enjoy long dinners over multiple bottles of wine and an entire month off in the summer.
Least favorite thing?
The lack of foreign food options. I know, Italy has some of the best food in the world, and I love pizza and pasta, but there were times that I wanted a big burrito, juicy burger, or Thai curry. All of which were nearly impossible to find, or crazy expensive for something of bad quality at a pub.
Sum up Italy in 1 word.
What song reminds you of your time in Italy?
Tiziano Ferro’s “Il regalo piu’ grande”. I became obsessed with bad Italian pop music during my time abroad and this was THE song in early 2009.
Did you get to do any other traveling?
I spent almost every weekend, and a week for spring break, traveling. I was able to see nine new countries during my time abroad. Most of them were weekend whirlwinds, but it was a lot of fun.
What was it like coming home?
Absolutely horrible. I spent the next four months listening to Tiziano Ferro on repeat, looking at the pictures of Rome, and trying to recreate my favorite Italian dishes in a fit of depression until I finally decided to move back as an au pair that fall.
Do you have any advice for future students in Italy?
Almost every man on the street will tell you how beautiful you are. Don’t be flattered. While the bars in Campo dei Fiori are a lot of fun, try venturing outside of the center for a more authentic Roman experience. Eat a lot of suppli.
Amanda is an American currently living in Seoul, teaching writing to elementary ESL students, and planning her long term, post-teaching contract trip. She blogs about travel, food, a love of Italy, and life in Korea over at her blog, Farsickness. You can also find her on twitter @farsickness and Facebook.