Abby Glasgow is a former USAC student, who spent her last semester of college here in the beautiful Torino. She studied in Torino during Fall 2014, taking the courses Italian language, cinema, cuisine, modern design and intercultural communications—getting a great taste for the Italian culture. Currently, Abby lives in Seattle working for a medical marketing firm. Abby let me ask her a few questions about her stay in Torino, her life back in the United States, and what advice she would give future travelers.
-Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Seattle, WA. Go Seahawks!
-What university did you attend at home? When did you graduate? What was your major?
I attended Chico State University in California. I graduated in 2014 and majored in Communication Design with an emphasis in Media Arts.
-Why did you choose to study abroad? Why did you choose Torino specifically?
I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but didn’t really have a specific destination in mind. I sat down with the USAC catalog and just started flipping through the pages, bookmarking any city that sparked my interest. I had A LOT of bookmarks by the time I was done, but I kept coming back to Torino. It intrigued me because it was a city I knew very little about. Personally, studying abroad meant getting out of my comfort zone, so what better way than to go somewhere completely unknown?
-How did your study abroad experience differ from your expectations?
My study abroad experience far exceeded any of my expectations, as in completely blew them out of the water. I had always heard things like “You learn so much about yourself!” or “You’ll never look at the world in the same way!”, but didn’t really believe that a person could change so much in so little time. It’s true though. When you study abroad, you have the ability to become totally engulfed in another culture and when you allow that to happen, it’s like opening your eyes for the first time. You’ll find that you are capable of almost anything – whether it’s navigating the tube system in London or communicating with the cheese guy at the market (make friends with that guy by the way, you can thank me later).
-Is there anything you wish you experienced or tried in Torino that you didn’t have time for?
For some reason I only had pizza a few times during my semester abroad. However, I definitely made up for lost time during my recent visit over the holidays. I recommend going to Lo Stonnato in San Salvario for pizza al padellino (pizza made in a small frying pan). I also never went inside The Mole Antonelliana, which is now the National Museum of Cinema. However, I did go to the observation deck on the very top. If you can time it right, try to go just before sunset for a spectacular 360 degree view of the city, the Alps and the Po River.
-Is there anything you wish you could do again?
Is everything an acceptable answer?
-What were your favorite parts about Italian culture?
Italian culture is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and although the stereotypes we’ve all heard are true to a certain extent, there’s a lot to be discovered. Yes, Italians have a different idea of personal space, they drink espresso in the morning and sometimes eat pasta for lunch. But in order to get a real feel for the culture, you’ve got to dig a little deeper. Talk to your neighbors, befriend the local having their afternoon caffé, don’t be embarrassed to practice your Italian! Really, throw yourself in to any chance you get. I had the opportunity to work with a family during my semester abroad as an English tutor for their children, and would often stay for dinner after our weekly lessons. It was wonderful to experience firsthand how Italian families gather around a table, not only to eat food, but to reconnect after a long and busy day.
-Did you travel outside the country? If so, where was your favorite destination, and why?
I had the chance to do quite a bit of traveling. Before arriving in Torino, I spent a month traveling through France, Spain, Belgium and Italy. Once I was settled, I started planning more trips and was able to visit Norway, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the UK, and Switzerland. It’s hard to pick a favorite because each was special in their own way, but I really loved Ireland. From the music scene and pubs in Dublin to the breathtaking views from the Cliffs of Moher, it is definitely worth visiting. That being said, be sure to spend some weekends in Torino. It is your home after all!
-How has your study abroad experience influenced your academic or career path?
Since I was approaching the end of my college career, it didn’t impact my academic path much, but one of my roommates ended up changing her major to International Business with a minor in Italian. Career-wise I’ve found that talking about my time abroad has made for a great ice breaker, and many job interviews slowly turned in to chatting about my travels throughout Europe.
-What advice would you give future study abroad students? What about current study abroad students?
My main piece of advice for future study abroad students is to be open minded. Maybe you’ve had your heart set on France since you ate your first crepe, but who knows, tapas in Spain might be a game-changer.
For those of you studying abroad now, my advice is to explore. Walk everywhere. I don’t know how many hours I spent wandering aimlessly throughout Torino, discovering little neighborhoods and parks that became my special secret spots.
The transition of coming home and entering the “real world” again was rough at first, but it was good to get back in to the swing of things. Plus I really missed my family and peanut butter.
Interviewed by: Emma Kantola, Spring 2016, University of New Hampshire
Torino, Italy is chock-full of mystery, romance, and, of course, delicious foods! There’s still time to sign up and go this summer or attend in the fall!