For everyone who didn’t know, I was in a program called ‘Open Campus Block’ which meant that my program was set up a little differently than most. My program was in 6-week blocks, so I took 2 classes every 6 weeks and then transitioned to another 2 classes for the next 6 weeks, and so on. With my program, you had the opportunity to travel to a different location each block if you so wished. I decided to spend my first 2 blocks (or 12 weeks) in Rome and my last block (6 weeks) in London. Given that not many people do this program or switch between host cities during their study abroad experience, I thought I would share some of my thoughts.
- Given that you take each class for only 6 weeks, each course met for at least 6 hours each week and was taught on a very high pace schedule. While sitting through 3-hour classes was an adjustment at first, I quickly came to love this way of instruction. By only taking 2 classes I was able to fully give my attention to each class and be as involved as possible.
- Having the opportunity to switch locations each block meant that every 6 weeks I was able to meet new people which I really enjoyed! On the other hand, it also means having to say bye to people after only 6 weeks. I met some of the best people while studying abroad and only getting to spend a few weeks with them was sometimes disappointing.
- Upon first arriving in Rome, I was greeted with very little culture shock. There were obvious changes in my lifestyle, but it seemed to flow very naturally, and I had very little issue adjusting. Moving to London presented itself with the biggest culture shock I felt while abroad. I didn’t expect to feel any culture shock in London given that it is an English-speaking city and very similar to America in a lot of ways which left me feeling very surprised and frustrated with myself. After the first few days in London, I realized I needed to give myself some grace and time to adjust as it was just as big of a difference in lifestyle as moving from the US to Rome. I think that after becoming so content with my life in Rome, it was hard to adjust to still being abroad but in a different place.
- Living in two different host cities was one of the best things I could have done for myself. It forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to experience two totally different ways of life outside of the US.
I will forever be grateful for CIEE Open Campus Block and all of the opportunities it gave me!