Italian Escapades: Rachel Graves

I got the opportunity to interview a good friend of mine, Rachel, who was able to go to Italy for a May Term this past summer. Here’s what she had to say about it. 


HerCampus: Tell me about your trip! Why did you choose Italy out of all of the study abroad courses offered, and why choose a May Term?


Rachel: Well, I’m a swimmer, and that means I can’t study abroad during Winter Term or either semester because of the long season we have. May Term is my only option for study abroad. I’m also kind of a homebody, so choosing a 2 week long course instead of an 8 week long course is not only cheaper, but I figured I would be less homesick, while at the same time getting myself out of my comfort zone a bit. I wanted to go to Italy because I like learning ancient history. I’ve never really enjoyed American history because it wasn’t exciting to me, but Italian stuff is different. Especially being there, it gives you a different perspective on all that history. When we went to an ancient Roman forum, it was like being in a time machine. Walking on cobblestones that people 2000 years ago walked on is a really cool experience.

HC: What did you do while you were in Italy? How did you spend your time? 

Rachel: I went to Italy with the Seaman family, and they are from Italy. This meant that the entire experience was wrapped up in this family atmosphere that was just wonderful. While we were there, we essentially took a culture class, and got to learn about the ancient art, architecture, and civilizations. I really enjoyed all of it. My freshman year here at DePauw, I took an ancient Roman world course and getting to see all these places I already knew about was amazing. I got to eat lots of good food and met so many people on the trip I don’t think I would ever be friends with if I had just stayed on campus. 


HC: That all sounds amazing! So what was your favorite part? 


Rachel: I think making friends with the people that I went on the trip with was the most rewarding thing. I’m such an introvert that it’s fun to branch out and meet other people. Now that we’re back on campus, I see them and say hello and we stop and catch up with each other! Michael Seaman is organizing a get together too, now that we’re all back, and I’m looking forward to it. 


HC: That’s great that you all have this bond! But now that I’ve asked what your favorite part was, I have to ask what your least favorite part was too. 


Rachel: Okay, that’s a hard question! I had such a good time while I was there. I think maybe the plane ride and the jet lag and all of that was probably the worst. This was my first long plane ride, and honestly that wasn’t much fun. Then when we got there, we went to take a tour of the Pantheon, which was really cool, but I wish I hadn’t been so tired! I would have probably gotten even more out of that tour. 


HC: That makes sense, but it’s good to hear that that was the hardest part. My last question is about the cultural differences. Was there any kind of culture shock? 


Rachel: There were definitely some things that I wasn’t used to. For one, pedestrians have the right of way here in America but that’s not the case in Italy. I nearly got run over a couple times! Another big difference is that people take their time there. Here, we get caught up with work and school but they like to relax. Of course, they still work hard, it’s just that they do a good job of making time for themselves and their loved ones. Dinners and other meals are big and they are often four courses, because they want to have time with their friends to talk. Everyone is really so kind. It was very refreshing to have no rude people in sight after being in the Chicago O'hare airport for a while!