Olivia Bonneville studied abroad on USAC’s Torino, Italy program in Spring 2014 and will be joining us at the USAC central office as part of our Summer Young Professionals.
Why did you choose the program that you did?
I knew I wanted to go to Europe but wasn’t completely sure where. I had thought about Italy since I have a lot of family from there, however, I was really open to anything. When I was at a study abroad fair I met a USAC representative and they told me about Torino – I fell in love. I loved that it was a place that most people don’t know about.
If or when you study abroad again, where would you like to go? Why?
If I were to go abroad again I would want to go somewhere even more out of my comfort zone, like, Thailand. I think learning about the culture would be amazing and getting to ride an elephant is a bucket list item.
What are some of your favorite highlights from your time abroad?
There are so many to choose from!! But I have to saying getting to go to London for my birthday and meeting a cousin of mine for the first time was pretty cool. The best part was getting to see Wicked in the Apollo Theater.
In your experience, what are the major benefits of studying abroad?
Expand your worldview. Study abroad gives you a chance to get out of your comfort zone and gain invaluable life skills. Being able to travel all over with confidence is another amazing benefit. I was able to travel most weekends and will never forget the amazing places I saw.
What were some of the special/unique things you were able to do or see?
When I was in Switzerland I got to go canyoning and paragliding. I was both terrifying and exhilarating.
What was a funny cultural experience?
It was funny to see how they park cars in Italy. People double park all the time, so you’re blocked in. They also park in cross walks, but it’s just a norm in Italy.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I need to keep traveling and see more of the world. But I need to spend quality time in each place. I love to immerse myself in cultures and learn about the local way of life.
How did studying abroad change you?
It has given me a leg up from others who have not gone abroad. It has given me a new perspective on what I value in life. And I’m a better cook after taking an Italian cuisine courses.
What’s one thing you would have done differently?
I would have stayed more weekends in my home city. Taking the time to really learn about where I was living and find all those secret hidden restaurants and coffee shops. I think it’s really important to embrace where you are living. Also, I would have to talked to more locals and learned about their daily life. I would have liked to study abroad for two semesters.
Now that you’re home, how do you see the impact of study abroad on your life?
I have the travel bug and an even bigger urge to learn about different cultures. My experience has widen my view on things and has made me a more well-rounded person. Studying abroad gives you the chance to become even more independent. I was also fortunate enough to work in my home school’s study abroad department as a USAC representative.
How many years did it/will it take you to graduate?
It will take me 4 years to graduate. I was lucky at how much the courses I needed matched up with what USAC offered. Plan ahead!
What, in your opinion, are the biggest myths students believe about studying abroad?
There are so many myths out there a couple being it’s too expensive and only certain majors can go abroad. This is why I love USAC it’s an affordable way to go abroad with program options that are offered for all different types of majors.
What advice would you have for students trying to decide whether or not to study abroad?
Make a pro / con list, if you make it right there will be no cons. Studying abroad is one of the best things you can do in college. You won’t find someone who regretted their time abroad, you will only find those who regret not ever going.