Returning back from Rome, Italy, after the spring of their junior year, Cortney Hughes, Marissa Maiolo, and Sarah Coakley shared their experience of being abroad. The study abroad program allows students to take their academic experience to the next level and help them grow intellectually.
The abroad programs allow many opportunities for tours of historical sights and time to travel to all the beautiful countries surrounding them. Maiolo explains, “The highlight of being abroad was being able to travel to so many countries throughout the four months.” Some of the countries these students visited were: Switzerland, Paris, Greece and Amsterdam. Marissa really enjoyed visiting Switzerland because it was not like anywhere else she has been, she explains, “Switzerland is so different, all you see are breath taking landscapes that seem to go on forever.”
Transitioning from the English language straight to Italian, and many more, the girls say it was a tough adjustment at first. Coakley explains that the language barrier was difficult in some countries but was still manageable. “Traveling from Sicily back to Rome was one of the hardest flights to maneuver because no one spoke English in the airport, but we finally figured out where to go and what plane to get onto just in time.” Overall, the language barrier was not difficult for the girls’ trip oversees; they had it very easy wherever they went. Language is a rare issue for students studying abroad, but students are advised to purchase translation books.
Expenses and managing money for their own groceries, traveling and personal souvenirs was the most challenging aspect of being abroad for these students. Having to return home is something that the girls were dreading all semester. Hughes says, “The only thing I missed about America was not having to pay in Euros. I wish I was still in Italy.” One American dollar is the equivalent to $1.29 Euro. Budgeting is key while away, especially in Europe. There is a money change, and it can get tricky to keep track of how much you are actually spending. Hughes goes on to say “My only advice to anyone who goes abroad is to always be managing their money whenever they make a transaction, because more money is being spent than you think!”
Students must have a GPA of at least 2.5 and have a steady academic history to qualify to travel abroad. With such positive feedback from these traveled students, it’s a surprise only 17% of Merrimack’s students travel abroad every year. For more information on studying abroad visit the third floor of the Sakowich Campus Center in The Office of International Programs.