IES Abroad- Rome
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Katelyn Humphrey

Major: Supply Chain Management; Communication Arts and Sciences
Minor: International Business
Hometown: West Chester

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about study abroad in general when I came to Penn State and heard how popular it was. However, I learned about the process and program options through both the Education Abroad fair held in Alumni Hall and through the Education Abroad 101 meeting during my freshman year. During my sophomore year, I set up a meeting with the international advisor for Smeal. Maureen and I sat down one day and looked at many of the study abroad options for Italy, which included many different cities. I did do some other research online as well about the best cities in Italy to study abroad and read personal reviews written about the different programs. The IES program that I chose is affiliated with Penn State so it made the application and enrolment process easier. Thankfully I knew which country I wanted to study in, but my best advice for a future study abroad student would be take time sorting through each of the countries and then cities and then programs available to find the program that really fulfills your study abroad goals.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

If I had to describe my study abroad experience thus far in one word, I would say "unreal." However, I really am here and I know for sure that this is all real life. I constantly find myself looking at something with my mouth gaping open because of the beauty. Europe is so full of culture, history, and amazing sights to see that I feel like I could stay here forever and still never see it all. I am currently studying in Rome, but I travel to other destinations almost every weekend. In just my short time here, I have fallen in love with Rome. I am enrolled in 5 classes, all of which have a strong correlation to Rome itself. We take field trips multiple times a week and learn about the art or the architecture first-hand rather than through a text book. I have made great friends here already whom I know I will cherish forever. I also live with an Italian student who helped to make the acclimation process stress-free. She has been a vital resource in helping me to improve my Italian skills. Overall, my eye-opening and exciting experience in Europe has been everything I could have hoped for.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Being abroad has encouraged me to take classes that I never would have thought to take at home at Penn State. At first I was a bit discouraged that I could not get credits to count towards either of my majors; however, it ended up benefiting me overall as a student. Here in Rome, in addition to an Italian course and a business course, I am able to also take art history, religion and mythology courses. These classes are fulfilling my general education requirements, however more importantly, they are making me a more well-rounded student. After just two months of classes, I already have a greater appreciation for the subjects I am now studying since I never would have thought to take these classes at Penn State. In addition to broadening my class range, I am also able to work towards my international business minor while studying here.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

Upon earning my undergraduate degree at Penn State, I plan to earn my MBA in Supply Chain Management. During my final semesters, I will be applying for graduate school to further my education. However, in order to help afford graduate school, I plan to start my career in the Supply Chain Management field immediately following graduation. Hopefully having a beginning career while attending school will help me to gain experience in the field. Studying in Rome will benefit my future career plans because of my International Business minor. This coming summer, I will be interning with DuPont, a company that takes pride in its international endeavors. Having just come back from Italy when I begin this internship, I feel as though I will have an advantage because of my hands-on experiences in Europe. When I go into the work force full-time, I will have the opportunity to fulfill my long-term goals of working internationally since I will know about the cultures, lifestyle, and languages of overseas nations.

No matter where a student studies abroad, I think he or she will benefit from the courses, but mostly from the new experiences.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes, I would definitely recommend studying abroad to all students. Not only am I being given the opportunity to take new types of classes, but I also am completely stepping out of my comfort zone. Before coming abroad, I didn’t like the city, was scared to take public transportation and had never been anywhere where English wasn’t the predominate language. Coming to Italy, I am no longer afraid to explore unknown places, I have improved my Italian speaking skills, and I have overall become a more confident person. No matter where a student studies abroad, I think he or she will benefit from the courses, but mostly from the new experiences. Many students hesitate about studying abroad due to their course load and finances, but I definitely think that any schedule can be worked out to include some time abroad. I also have seen first-hand how much putting the time into applying for scholarships can pay off to make it an affordable experience.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The biggest way that Paterno Fellows Program has impacted my study abroad experience has been through encouraging me to learn a second language. I had already taken years of Spanish in high school, but the language requirement of Paterno Fellows encouraged me to choose a new language. As soon as I started taking Italian classes, I fell in love with both the language and the culture. As I learned more and more, I decided that I needed to experience Italy for myself— and study abroad seemed like the best way to experience it. Through the help of professors and extremely helpful advisors, I was finally able to make this dream a reality.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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