We all study abroad to get different experiences, but I think many of us plan on seeing historical monuments, traveling to other countries, and meeting new people. Most people skip over the part where classroom learning is going to be drastically different; I know I did. The first shock to my system was the setting of John Cabot: right in the heart of Trastevere, on the cobblestone streets, next to my soon-to-be-favorite pizzeria and gelato shops. My home university has a physical campus like many other schools in the U.S., with specific land encompassing all of the associated buildings. This provides a secluded feel; instead, there was something exhilarating about walking the bustling streets of Rome each morning, only to duck into the guarded door of John Cabot and begin class.
Perhaps I didn’t do enough research before I got there, but my next shock was how small the student population was! Only 1,079 students total for the fall semester and 40-50% of that population was students from the U.S. My home university has 32,000 students so you can imagine my surprise at recognizing the same people every day at school. Although it took some getting used to, I couldn’t imagine a better environment for the academic portion of study abroad. The small student population allowed me to meet and befriend students from all over the world and the U.S.
I took International Finance, International Economics, and Strategic Management while there, with class sizes ranging from six (yes, six) to 22 people. In some cases I was the only American student or one of very few compared to the rest of the class. This was scary at first. I was used to going to class, sitting in a lecture of over 100 people and going home without anyone noticing. At John Cabot, people will notice you, and your professors may not be from your home country. Your professors will know your name, the brand of your laptop, the type of croissant you had in the cafeteria, and your eye color by the second week of school. So make a good impression!
The small class sizes also gave me the opportunity to receive far more personalized instruction by some of the best and most well-educated professors I have ever had in my years of college. Two of my professors had Harvard MBA degrees and I learned about aspects of international business, which I now plan to pursue, from their stories of working all over the world. Specifically, my Strategic Management class taught by Professor Pulino was the most rewarding class I took because it was the most interactive and the capstone of all my business courses. Along with the other 13 students, I analyzed businesses (both foreign and American), practiced and improved my public speaking skills, and learned to present conclusions in a professional and effective way. Many times, the class simply worked as a large group and I got to experience the academic and cultural background of the other international students. Sometimes this included explaining to the Italian students about my Texas heritage and why I say “y’all” so much. I made professional connections and close friends while working on a detailed final case analysis about Starbucks that turned into a 40-minute presentation and a highlight of my academic career. Professor Pulino is now very dear to me and helped me find a path to graduate school. She is even writing me a letter of recommendation.
Overall, I grew more as a student and a person in a setting that truly challenged me to conquer my shyness, get involved, work in groups, and learn to present my ideas successfully. I didn’t originally choose John Cabot for the class size or professor credentials, but I am honored to have gotten so lucky in choosing this university.
Study Abroad Fall 2015
Finance & Accounting Double Major
Texas Tech University
Learn more about studying abroad at John Cabot University.