Claire Demers: The Study Abroad Experience

Name: Claire Demers

Year: Sophomore 

Major: History and Political Science

Hometown: Aledo, Texas

Campus involvement: Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Model United Nations, German Club, TCU Marching Band, TCU Special Collections student employee

What made you want to travel abroad?

"I have always wanted to see the places I’ve read about in history books or on travel blogs, and last semester I decided to jump right in and apply to go."

 

Tell me a little about your study abroad experience this semester and where you'll be going:

"This semester I will be traveling abroad through the program CIEE. I will be spending my first six weeks in Rome, Italy and then the next twelve weeks in Berlin, Germany. I will be taking two classes every six weeks in subjects ranging from German Fairy Tales to Holocaust Studies to a class over the Vatican State." 

 

What's been the best part of studying abroad so far?

"It is really hard to pinpoint a “best part” so far! Of course the food has been amazing and so have the people, but what I love most of all is the fact that up to four (out of five) classes a week are held on sight. Next week our class is being held in the Colosseum and so far my classes have taken me everywhere around Rome and the Vatican including the Roman Forum, The Vatican Museums, and Saint Peter’s Basilica. It’s like having a field trip every day and it is so fun to learn about the place you are studying by actually being there."

Has anything about the study abroad experience been particularly surprising? 

"There have definitely been some unexpected things I have had to learn! First, there are laws in Italy specifying when and how long you can heat buildings for (for example, my apartment can only be heated 12 hours a day). This means for some pretty chilly winter nights! What Italians call “Bars” are actually coffee shops, where you pay more to sit in a chair and less if you stand at the bar and drink your drink there. Also, ordering a typical “coffee” means you will end up with an espresso shot. The driving in Italy is also very wild! People park everywhere and anywhere, and stop lights are more or less optional." 

 

What's the best Italian food you've had so far?

"This is a tough one too. If I were to say the best pasta, it would have to be salmon penne I got from a little Trattoria in Venice. The best pizza I’ve had was from a restaurant called “Del Presidente” in Naples (the birthplace of pizza!). But best food overall goes to Italy’s cured prosciutto. It’s on everything from pizza to panini and it is to die for!"

 

What advice would you give to people who are considering traveling abroad?

"I would tell anyone thinking of studying abroad to research where you want to go and what kind of program you want to do extensively, but to not be scared to go alone! I was nervous to be the only TCU student going on this program, but I’ve met so many amazing people so far it has definitely been worth it. 

Another tip is to budget before you go. Make sure you have ample funds to cover all the amazing trips you want to take and not break the bank!"