Reflection of My Time Abroad

The time has finally come for me to publish my last blog post and with it comes a variety of bittersweet emotions. While I am happy to be home and be with family and friends again, I already miss the life I lived while abroad. Studying abroad allowed me to grow both as a student and as a person.  

While abroad, I was able to not only fulfill required graduation requirements but was also able to take classes that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to take. For example, I took a class titled ‘Development, Poverty, and Human Rights’ while in Rome. I initially enrolled in this course as it counted towards my international affairs minor, but it came to be a class that changed my thought process towards certain humanitarian topics. Being able to see issues we discussed in class firsthand during my time in Rome gave me a different perspective than I could have gotten elsewhere. Moving forward in not only my time at Wofford but beyond, I hope to exercise this newfound mindset to approach issues that I may learn about. On the other hand, some of my classes abroad were set up very different compared to how a normal Wofford course is set up. Adapting to these new styles of teaching will be useful when taking classes in my post-graduate programs. 

On a personal level, I have grown tremendously during my time abroad. I have learned to be a better problem solver, more independent, trust myself and be confident in my decisions, how to interact with people of many different backgrounds, and so much more. All these attributes will help me greatly for the rest of my time at Wofford and beyond. 

Even after being home for a month and reflecting deeply on my study abroad experience, it is still difficult to put into words how grateful I am for this past semester. I wish that everyone could experience studying abroad and be as fulfilled with their experience as I am!

Review of Open Campus Block

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!

Traveling While Studying Abroad

One of the best parts about studying abroad in Europe is opportunity to travel and for cheap! While I was abroad, I was able to travel to a total of 9 countries and 15 cities! Here are some suggestions!

  • Plan (to an extent)

Making a list of the few places you HAVE to visit while abroad is a good starting place. Planning some of those bigger trips early on once you get settled abroad means that you’ll have a better chance of seeing everything you want and for cheaper. Make sure to leave some weekends free to explore your host city or take spontaneous weekend trips to smaller places you haven’t thought about!

  • Don’t be afraid of solo travel

While there are several cautions to traveling solo, going on smaller day trips places by yourself is a great way to see areas and realize how you like to travel. 

  • Research transportation 

While flying throughout Europe is unbelievably cheaper than the US (as little as $35 roundtrip to go to a different country!), there are sometimes more manageable options. For example, I purchased a Eurail pass for all of my traveling throughout Italy which made it so much easier to hop on and off trains to visit where we wanted to go. Transportation varies within each country, so doing some quick google searches is always helpful!

  • Ask for recommendations 

Don’t be afraid to ask people for suggestions about where you’re visiting. While TikTok is great for some things, some of the best places I visited came from suggestions from other students who traveled there, hostel/Airbnb staff, locals, etc. Everyone wants to share what their favorite thing is and will love to help you!

  • Find the balance of living in the moment and taking pictures

Taking pictures and videos is not only a great way for you to remember the moments, but also a way for friends and family back home to share in the experience with you. I tried to only have my phone out for taking pictures and nothing else as much as possible because I often found myself caught up on my phone doing other things instead of enjoying where I was right in the moment. 

Traveling was one of my favorite parts about study abroad and is one of the things I am going to miss most!

Stress While Abroad

With all the preparation meetings, stories from other students, and of course, Tik Toks, it was easier than ever to be excited about studying abroad before I even left. As part of these expectations, I was warned several times about the stressors that come about while being abroad, but it was hard to expect what the low points might feel and look like. Here are some things I found that helped me de-stress while abroad!

  • Talking

I found that talking to other students in my program about what I’m stressed about has probably been the most helpful tool while abroad. We are all going through this experience together and it is comforting to talk to people who are feeling the same way as me. 

  • Spending time outdoors

I have always been one that enjoys going on a nice walk, but I have especially found trying to spend time outdoors while abroad is helpful to my mental and physical health. It was a little more difficult to be outdoors when I first arrived in Rome given the weather, but even walking to and from class was a nice break. Now that I am in London and surrounded by over 3,000 parks, I tend to spend as much time outside as possible. 

  • Reminders from home

Something I have found that helps when I’m stressed is to find reminders of things that bring me comfort at home. When I’m stressed about school for example, I go to a coffee shop and set up camp there for a few hours. After drinking a few cups of coffee and knocking out my assignments, it almost feels like I’m spending my afternoon in Milliken. 

  • Staying in touch 

Texting or calling friends and family from home is always something that can make any day better!

Studying abroad can have some stressful moments, but finding strategies like these helped me greatly! 

A Day in Rome

Buongiorno (good morning)! Today I’m going to show you what a typical day in my life looks like in Rome!

My Monday-Thursdays usually start around 9:00/9:30am when I wake up and make a light breakfast at my apartment. After breakfast I have a few hours of free time before my class, so I do things like running errands, catching up on homework, going grocery shopping, etc. Around 12:00 I leave my apartment to head to my 12:30-3:30pm class at the CIEE Study Center. The study center is only a 30-minute walk from my apartment so most people who live in my neighborhood walk to class every day. While there are public transportation options such as buses, metros, etc., almost everywhere I go is within a 30ish minute walk from my apartment. 

Some mornings are spent at a cafe enjoying breakfast and working on some homework
There is always some kind of street performer by my apartment which makes the walk to and from class entertaining!

The way my program is set up I took two classes for the first six weeks and then I switched to taking two new classes for this six-week period. This block I am taking Dawn to Dusk on Monday and Wednesday where I am learning about the history of how Rome was built. My other class is Food, Nutrition, and Culture on Tuesday and Thursday where we talk about anything from the connection between food and psychology to current Italian cuisine. Both courses have a mixture of lecture style classes and on-site activities where we go and visit a location that connects back to the lesson. These on-site trips are one of my favorite parts about classes here because I get to see parts of the city that I wouldn’t see otherwise. 

For my Food, Nutrition, and Culture class we visited the Jewish Ghetto and tried fried artichoke from an authentic Jewish restaurant
We visited the ruins of the Roman aqueducts for my Dawn to Dusk class

After class ends, my afternoons are spent at either a café with friends, working on homework, walking around exploring the city, catching up with friends and family from home, or enjoying some free time.

My walk home from class

My nights end by making dinner and hanging out with my roommates in our apartment. 

The common area in my apartment
This is my room which I share with two other roommates

While the pace in which my day-to-day life moves in Rome is slower, tasks such as homework, socializing, making meals, etc. is very similar to how my life is at Wofford. 

I have three weeks left in Rome before I am heading to London, so I am trying to soak in every moment I can with this time left!


America vs Italy


I have officially been in Rome for almost seven weeks now and while Rome has started to feel like a second home, I have also discovered several cultural differences here in Italy compared to the United States. 


Food was one of the first differences one notices when they get to Rome. Not only the type of food that is eaten, but when and how food is consumed is different. Rome has not disappointed me with the type of food it has with pizza, pasta, and gelato shops on every corner of every street that all taste amazing. Along with restaurants and shops lining the streets are seating areas. I have found it is so much more common to eat outside in Italy than it is in the United States. I would say that I have seen less than ten restaurants without a large outdoor seating area. Meals in themselves are a little different here as well. Italians typically have a lighter breakfast that consists of something along the lines of a cappuccino and a croissant sometime between 8:00-10:00am.

Lunch is had sometime between 12:30-2:30 and usually consists of pasta, a sandwich, or pizza.

Sandwiches along these lines are typical for lunch

Before dinner there is something called ‘Aperitivo’ which can most easily be compared to happy hour in America. Aperitivo occurs sometime between 5:00-7:00pm where small plates like appetizers are brought out when one orders a drink.

Finger foods are brought out to the table during Aperitivo

That leaves dinner being eaten sometime between 8:00-10:00pm. For dinner, it is typical to start off with a bowl of pasta and then order meat as a second course followed by dessert and an espresso. 

A pasta dish along these lines is a typical Italian dinner


Here in Italy, we are required to separate our garbage in four different categories: paper, glass, organic, and plastic. We separate our garbage into separate bins in our apartment, then take the individual bags down to the street and place them into the appropriate containers. Italians take recycling properly seriously and you can get fined if you don’t follow all the rules. It might take a little bit more work on my end to make sure the garbage is properly taken care of, but it helps the environment in extreme ways. 

The separate garbage cans in the street

Slowing Down

One of the things I noticed after just a few days of being here is the slower pace of life in Italy. Italians take their time walking on the street, shopping, eating meals, and everything in between. It can be a little annoying when I’m running late to class and want to walk with a purpose, but for the most part, I have enjoyed slowing life down a little bit. 

While these differences have taken a little bit of time to get used to, they make Rome unique and the city I have learned to love!

I’m Here!

Buon giorno from Italy! After several hours of waiting, traveling, and waiting some more- I am finally settled into my apartment here in Rome!

The day I landed I was greeted by a beautiful sunset on an evening walk right outside my apartment

This semester I will be living in an apartment with six random roommates who are all from different schools across the country. Coming from Wofford, where I previously only lived with one roommate, living with six of them is going to be an adjustment, but one I am excited to experience! My apartment is centrally located in a neighborhood of Rome called Prati, which means that I am, at most, an hour walk from all of the major things to do in Rome. While being given the tour of my apartment, there were a few things I immediately registered that were going to take some time to get used to:

  • Our washer is outside, and we don’t have a dryer
  • We also do not have a dishwasher 
  • The electricity can go out several times a day and it’s called a ‘blackout.’ To turn the power back on, we must walk to a control box outside and flip it back on
  • We got lucky with our apartment having both a stove and an oven, but we don’t have a microwave 
  • We don’t have control over the temperature in our apartment. Our apartment doesn’t have AC, but the heat is controlled by our building as a whole and is usually only on for certain (minimal) hours during the day
  • Our bathroom has both a regular toilet and a bidet!
  • In Italy, they take recycling very seriously and require that you separate your trash into different containers  

While these are all different from what I am used to, these situations are common in most apartments in Italy/Europe in general and I know after a few weeks of being here, it will all seem perfectly normal. 

A major concern of mine before arriving in Italy was the language barrier given that I don’t speak Italian. This worry was quickly nonexistent after my first few days of being here. A good thing about living in a touristy area such as Rome is that most servers, taxi drivers, shop owners, etc. speak enough English that we can carry basic conversations for what is needed. While we can communicate mostly in English, people appreciate a simple ‘grazie’ (thank you) when leaving an establishment or finishing an interaction. 

As I mentioned earlier, most things are an easy walk away from my apartment, which meant that within a few days of being here, I got to check off some major bucket list items by just walking around!

The Pantheon
The Colosseum
The Roman Forum
The Trevi Fountain
St. Peters Basilica

Even though I have only been here for a few weeks, I know this is exactly where I am supposed to be, and I am so excited for what this semester has in store for me!


Preparing for Rome!

To everyone who isn’t my mom, dad, or their Facebook friend, hi! My name is Caroline Payne.  I am a current junior from Lexington, SC majoring in Biology with a minor in International Affairs. This semester, I will be studying abroad in Rome for 12 weeks and London for 6 through CIEE’s Open Campus Block Program.

I have always known I wanted to spend a portion of my undergraduate experience abroad and Wofford’s International Programs department was a major reason of why I chose Wofford as my dream school.  I was supposed to study abroad last spring, but like most things that were supposed to happen for the last two years, it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Choosing to find another date to study abroad was a no-brainer but deciding between going abroad for a whole semester or just Interim was a big choice. I already feel as though so much of my Wofford experience was disrupted because of COVID-19 and I didn’t know if I wanted to miss a whole other semester on campus. After much deliberation, I decided to keep the promise to my younger self and go for the semester. After deciding this in the early summer of 2021, I had several meetings and conversations with my advisor and chose my program by the end of the summer. 

I chose my specific program for several reasons, but the biggest drawing factor to me was I got to live in multiple cities and experience a variety of cultures while only being abroad for one semester. The way classes are set up through my program will allow me the chance to get several credits for my major and minor taken care of while also getting to take some classes specific to my location. One of the biggest obstacles to studying abroad for many people, including myself, is the financial aspect. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a recipient for a scholarship given out by my company, as well as having my Wofford scholarships carry over to next semester. These scholarships took a huge burden off me and my family and made studying abroad a possibility for me. 

I hope to grow as a more independent and well-rounded person while being forced out of my comfort zone and into the unknown. I of course have a little bit of nervousness about the culture difference, language barrier, leaving my family and friends, etc., but I am so excited about what this semester has in store for me!