Postcard from Abroad: Tiffany Payne

Studying abroad in Italy a life-changing experience for BGSU student

Throughout my time at Bowling Green State University, I always had an interest in studying abroad, but with my financial situation and class schedules making it a time crunch to graduate in five years, I just knew that it could not be possible. As my final school year was approaching, it looked like I was going to have a little bit more time left than I originally thought and I had to stay an extra semester. I was bummed that I had to stay even longer, but little did I know it was going to be everything that I needed.  

Last fall, my professors, Dr. Susan Peet and Dr. Laura Landry-Meyer brought up an opportunity that they thought would be good for me as a Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) major , which was a study abroad program at Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento, Italy. I got extremely excited hearing about this opportunity because it would give me the chance to study families of a different cultural background, which is a dream for an HDFS major. I was still discouraged, though, because of personal reasons, but after spending a lot of time discussing plans, and with their encouragement and support, I was able to make it possible.

I was so excited for this opportunity, but pretty nervous at the same time. This was my first time outside of the United States and I was not sure what to expect, especially traveling with so many other people that I did not know very well. Although I was nervous about many things, it turned out to be one of the greatest decisions in my entire life.

We traveled around Italy for a total of 18 days. We started off in Venice and then we traveled to Murano, Burano, Florence, Pisa, Milan, Amalfi, Positano, Capri, Pompeii and Rome. All of these cities were very unique, and I learned so many new things about the Italian culture every single day. The views that I had the chance to see were absolutely breathtaking. Being able to see the famous landmarks such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the countless beautiful Cathedrals, the Colosseum, Statue of David, the original painting of “The Last Supper,” the famous Murano glass, and so many other great things, in person, was the most special experience. I not only learned a lot about a different culture on this trip, but I learned about families, individuals, my peers and, most important, myself.  

I am so fortunate to have been able to travel to Italy and live in a different culture. I took away far more than I could have ever imagined and it helped put a lot of things in my life into perspective. I cannot quite put into words just how incredible this study abroad experience was for me. Being able to interact and collaborate with others at the Sant’Anna Institute, kayak and snorkel in the Bay of Naples, climb Mt. Vesuvius, devour amazing Italian meals and gelato, ride on a Gondola, throw a coin in the famous Trevi Fountain and many other priceless opportunities, made for an incredible study abroad experience. I had the chance to grow closer to some of my favorite mentors as well as get to know 18 wonderful people who I can now call my friends, that I am able to share this amazing experience with, and for this, I am truly grateful.

For those who are reading this, I want to leave you with some advice. Take advantage of every opportunity when you get the chance. It does not matter if you are an incoming freshman or if you are a fifth-year student like me, it is never too late to experience something life changing. Do not be afraid to reach out for help because the opportunities are there for those who seek them. The exceptional study abroad programs that BGUS has to offer is something that I wish I took advantage of sooner, but everything happens for a reason and I am very  grateful to be able to share a bit of my experience with you all. I hope that you too get the chance to study abroad at some point in your college career because I am forever changed by my leap of faith that I decided to take.