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Gurveer Singh

SFU Student Undergraduate
Beedie School of Business › Finance | Beedie School of Business › Management Information Systems

Program:
Location:
My study abroad opportunity in Rome was amazing. I was able to immerse myself in a new culture, broaden horizons, and gain valuable educational and personal experience.
Experience Details
Semester
Spring
Year
2023
Introduction + Preparation
Location Research

When considering where to study abroad in Europe, I found that Italy's culture, food, and overall vibe aligned with my interests. The country's rich history, art, and architecture, combined with its renowned cuisine and laid-back lifestyle, made it an ideal destination. I was not disappointed by the incredible experiences and memories that followed.

Financial Preparation

Financial preparation is crucial before studying abroad. I made sure to research the estimated cost of living, including accommodation, food, transportation, and other daily expenses. Additionally, it's essential to factor in the cost of tuition, study materials, and travel expenses. Creating a budget, with the form provided by SFU, and finding ways to save money, such as applying for scholarships or grants, really helps alleviating this stress. It's also important to ensure that you've figured out how the banking system works, whether you want to use your Canadian bank account or open a new one there. Personally, I applied for a Canadian credit card that had no exchange rate fees, so this made it easy without the hassle of having to open a new bank account in Italy. Bringing Euro cash is also ideal because many places prefer payments in cash especially if it is below 5 euros.

Packing

Before leaving for Italy, I packed essentials such as comfortable walking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, and a versatile jacket to ensure I was prepared for various weather conditions. Additionally, a portable charger for my electronic devices, and a few travel adapters for EU. I also packed any necessary study materials, including a laptop and a few notebooks, to stay on top of coursework while abroad. I made sure to bring any personal items that I used on a daily basis, as well as some comfort snacks.

Travel and Transportation

In Rome, and all throughout Europe, the public transport system is very easy to use. They have buses running all day, metro trains and trams. During nights out, you can also book with Uber or find a taxi very easily using the ItTaxi App. Going to other countries and cities is extremely easy, with cheap flights through SkyScanner or even just taking the train.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

Preparing for an exchange term can be an exciting but challenging experience. It is important to research the country you will be visiting, including its culture, language, and customs. You also want to look into necessary visas and travel documents, finding accommodation, and researching the cost of living.

When researching courses, it is important to carefully review the course descriptions, credit requirements, and prerequisites. You should also consider your academic goals and interests, as well as the availability of courses that align with these goals.

Additionally, it can be helpful to reach out to students who have previously participated in the exchange program to get their insights and recommendations. Finally, it is important to be open-minded and flexible, as your exchange experience may present unexpected challenges and opportunities.

The Great Synagogue of Rome is known for being one of the largest synagogues in the world and an important symbol of the Jewish community in Rome
Great Synagogue of Rome
One of the many beautiful classrooms at LUISS university
One of many beautiful classrooms at my university
A view of the Sistine Chapel from the streets of Vatican City
Vatican
During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

The first couple of weeks were overwhelming as I adjusted in a completely new country - introduced to a new culture, language, and lifestyle. It was definitely a culture shock in the beginning, but it's important to remember that these feelings are normal and will subside over time.

During the first few weeks, I made sure to explore, meet new people, and try new things. It's essential to be open-minded, adaptable, and patient as you navigate these new experiences and challenges.

Accommodation and Living

My university campus did not have student accommodation, so I had to find a place off campus. There are various sites that I looked at to find rentals, but most of these places for students are fully booked up in September. So as I attended school in January there weren't many places, and the few that were available had minimum stay requirements and deposits. So I decided to book a long term Airbnb which was close to my school within public transport distance of 20 minutes. I had a shared flat with 4 other international students. It was a great experience overall as it made it very easy to make friends in the first weeks.

Day to Day

The day to day life for me was exciting and varied. With my course load and schedule, I normally spent my days attending classes, working out and exploring the city's historical landmarks, and trying local cuisine. On days off, I travelled to new cities/countries with my new friends and some countries I went solo. On some weekends, I went out with friends to explore the city's vibrant nightlife, museums and galleries, or simply to relax in one of Rome's beautiful parks or cafes.

The lectures for me were 3.5 hours each. They either begun at 9:30am or at 2:00pm. My class size was small (15 students) and I had the same classmates for all of my classes. The grading is a bit different from Beedie as there is no curved grading, it is marked based on attendance, participation, class projects and the final exam.

Learning and Adaptation

Adapting to a new culture in Rome as a Canadian may have taken some time and effort, but it was ultimately a rewarding experience. By immersing myself in the local culture, practicing the language, and being open-minded, I was able to quickly learn new customs and traditions, make new friends, and gain a deeper appreciation for the diversity of the world.

Accomplishments and Challenges

My plan was to make the most of my exchange in Europe. In the 3 months I was in Italy, I managed to travel to beautiful 10 Italian cities, as well as 6 countries. I took most of my trips with friends I made during the exchange, however I traveled to London, Bucharest and Amsterdam solo. Travelling alone was a fantastic experience. Staying in hostels provided a unique opportunity to connect with other travellers and share stories and experiences. I was able to meet people from all over the world. I mostly explored the cities on foot, visited landmarks, and tried local cuisine. Travelling solo also allowed me to challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone, ultimately leading to personal growth. My entire exchange was an unforgettable adventure that opened my eyes to new perspectives.

Social and Extracurricular Activities

It was very easy to make new friends and meet people in Rome. I joined the ESN group which is the network for all Erasmus/exchange students. The group leaders organized many events, such as at nightclubs, dinners and day trips to new places. It was a great experience where I had met so many new friends from different countries. I also was able to meet with other students from different universities in the Lower Mainland which was really cool. Outside of the ESN group, my classmates were very friendly as well as my flatmates. Everyone is up for new adventures in Rome, and this made it so simple to make plans and go have fun and explore.

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

The exchange semester in Rome gave me a wealth of new experiences and opportunities for personal and academic growth. Through immersion in a new culture, I really gained a greater understanding of the world and developed a more global perspective. The exchange also allowed me to improve my language skills, build lasting relationships with fellow students and locals, and expand my academic knowledge in a new and exciting environment. Overall, the exchange semester was a transformative experience that has helped shape me into a more well-rounded and culturally aware individual.

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

The study abroad experience in Rome was incredibly valuable. One of the most valuable aspects was the caliber of professors, who were all highly experienced and accomplished in their fields, all serving as board members or CEOs of major companies. Their expertise and insights provided me with a unique perspective on global business practices and trends.

Another valuable aspect of the experience was the friendships I made with fellow students from all over the world. These friendships allowed me to learn about new cultures, make connections with people from diverse backgrounds, and build a global network of contacts that will serve me well in future endeavours.

Overall, the study abroad experience was truly life-changing. Through new experiences and perspectives, I was able to develop a more global outlook, enhance my academic and professional skills, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Advice for Future Students

For future students interested in studying abroad in Rome, I would advise them to start learning some basic Italian early on. Although most locals are able to communicate in English, there are still some areas where individuals won't be able to speak English and it can make it a lot easier to know a few simple words and phrases. Additionally, I would encourage them to take advantage of every opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture, try new things, and make meaningful connections with fellow students and locals. Above all, be open-minded, flexible, and willing to step outside your comfort zone, as the study abroad experience in Rome can be one of the most rewarding and transformative experiences of your life.

Author

Gurveer Singh

SFU Student Undergraduate
Beedie School of Business › Finance | Beedie School of Business › Management Information Systems
visibility  235
Apr 21, 2023

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