Payton Herwig

Major: Apparel, Merchandising, and Design
Class: Junior
Timeframe: September 2017 - December 2017
Type of Experience: Study Abroad
Destination: Italy

Overall Experience

This was the most amazing 3 1/2 months of my life. I went to Italy knowing no one and left with the most amazing friends across the world. I'm so glad I chose to go to Accademia because it's a real Italian University so I got to know so many full time students from so many different countries. I had the opportunity to travel to 14 different Italian cities and 5 other countries outside of Italy. I wish I could rewind time and do it all over again, I can't emphasize how much I loved it enough.

Learning experience

I learned so many things while I was there. I think the most valuable learning experience I had was trying to really engulf myself in the Italian culture. I came with so many American stereotypes and expectations and I was constantly thrown curve balls my first few weeks. I really tried to learn the language, style, and culture so I could fit in more and have a more wholesome experience. I think I learned a lot about just respecting other cultures and how much just doing those little things can get you such a long way. I had some really amazing encounters with Italian people just because of my trying to fit in and being curious about their culture.

Memorable experience

It is so hard to pick the most memorable experience because every second of everyday seemed like my favorite part of the trip. If I had to pick I think my most memorable experience was trying to go to as many cafes as I could with one of my friends that I had met while I was there. We tried to get up every morning and go to a cafe before class and we were constantly trying to find new ones. We of course had our few favorites and really got to know the baristas and owners of those cafes, it was almost just as sad to say goodbye to them as it was my friends.

What advice would you give?

If I have any advice for studying abroad the first thing is to just do it. If you want to and have the opportunity just do it, it will be the most amazing time of your life. Personally, I think I maximized my experience to it's full potential, I would try and go somewhere new every chance you get. I was lucky, my program took us on four weekend trips to different places in Italy and I am so thankful I took advantage of those. Do research, don't go into this adventure blindsided. Figure out what the place you're going to is like, what's the exchange rate, what kind of clothes do they wear, what are basic sayings in their language (hello, goodbye, please, thank you). And lastly, have an open mind. Culture shock is real and other countries do things a lot differently than the United States. But you learn to love and accept their culture and it becomes like another identity. It's truly amazing.

How has this experience impacted your life?

This experience has really made me into a new person. I feel so much more outgoing, have a more open mind, and have a new perspective on the world. I am so much more motivated and have gotten much more involved since I've been back and that is a lot due to the people I met there. They were so inspiring and really pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and put myself out there. I have so much more confidence in myself and can really see that helping me in the future. I career goals grew a lot while I was there, I hope to go back to Europe and do an internship or work there for a few years now that I got a taste of the culture and fell in love with it.

How did you learn about this experience?

A couple of students came into one of my classes the fall of my sophomore year and talked about their time studying at Accademia. I knew I had wanted to study abroad and this seemed like a really cool school.

International Connections