Making the Decision

“It is said that the average person makes about 35,000 relatively conscious decisions in a single day.”

From hitting the snooze button to sleep in 10 more min before your 8am class to choosing what major you actually want to study, we all have to make both big and small decisions in our lives.
One of the biggest decisions I’ve made this year is to study abroad in Modena, Italy for the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 [Academic Year]!

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A little background music to go along with this post. Enjoy! 
[Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield]

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ABOUT ME :

First, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Rosa and I am 24 (almost 25) years old. I am going to be (technically) a Senior this coming Fall 2018 semester. I think for most people, being a senior is generally nice because everyone knows that means that you are almost done. But in my case, being a “Senior” is so much more.

At this point, I am not what you may necessarily consider a traditional student. ” 

Between 2011 and 2017, for various reasons, I was in and out of quite a few universities and colleges (3 to be exact). I have lived on campus for 2 of them and I was a commuter from home for 1. By the time I got to the 3rd, I was able to complete my Associates degree in World Languages and move on to another university. In Fall 2017 I was accepted to transfer to UMass Lowell to work on completing my Bachelors degree and major in World Languages: Spanish & Italian, as well as a minor in Graphic Design. UMass Lowell is now the 4th university I have attended, and I am very happy to say I have been very successful as a commuter student in my time here.

“Needless to say, It has been a very long journey for me to get to where I am right now and to be able to make the amazing decision to study abroad.” 

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“TO STUDY ABROAD OR NOT TO STUDY ABROAD” :

In my Fall ’17 semester at UMass Lowell, I wasn’t sure if I would even do a study abroad at all. The problem with being a transfer student is that you have to complete a certain amount of credits at the educational institution you are attending in order to graduate from there. So as I’ve mentioned before, being a senior and graduating is really important to me. Especially with how long its taken me to get to this point, and so not being able to do that is a big deal and i didn’t want to risk that for a study abroad.

Nearing the end of Fall semester, I got in contact with my advisor to select the courses I wanted to take for the Spring semester. In meeting Professor Giulia Po’ DeLisle, we were able to talk about the direction of my course of study and what my short and long term goals were.

“She encouraged me to take a look at some of the study abroad opportunities in Italy that were being promoted by UMass Lowell.”

I told her about my concerns of not graduating in time and/or not being able to graduate due to credits not completed at my home educational institution. Giulia was super helpful and worked closely with me to to find out all the answers to many of my concerns and what my options were. Once I felt more comfortable about the idea of studying abroad, I began looking into the different options.

CLICK HERE for the full list of programs UMass Lowell students can apply to!

Like doe-eyed, innocent, incoming freshmen students checking out the study abroad table at the orientation fair, I started getting excited at the thought that maybe studying abroad was still a good idea. It would be a brand new experience, a new continent, and I’d go on this big crazy foreign adventure!

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THE FINANCIAL BURDEN :

Then it hit me…….. I had no clue where I would even get the funds to support myself on a journey like this. Up until this point, I had been (and still am) working part time while being a full-time student. I’ve been paying my bills and a decent portion of my student loans, and meanwhile, I’m STILL living with my parents. (That last bit about still living with my parents is both a blessing and a curse.) I thought that by 22 I’d be graduated from college, independent, and out living my best life. Yet here I am, on the grind, and still trying to get one REALLY expensive piece of paper.

As I dove further into my research I began looking into the financial set up of each program I was interested in. Some of the programs had a lot of options and would package up the cost of Airfare, housing, meal stipend, and any extra trips that you opted for and the arrangements for all of it into one set price. Others did not have as many options but, that allows you freedom over what and how much you pay for things.

After comparing and contrasting the different price ranges and speaking with my parents to see what is realistic and doable for our family’s financial situation (and planning to work my butt of during the summer, which I have been), I decided to choose to apply to an exchange program. I felt that doing an exchange program, as opposed to a partner-led program, would be the right move for me because there would be a lot more control over how much and where my money would be spent.

SIDE NOTE: [ In part, that decision was also influenced by my sister’s own study abroad semester experience with a partner-led program (not in Italy). From her personal account of the experience, there were both positives and negatives with her program. In my own research, I felt that some of the negatives she mentioned were definite deal breakers for me and with an exchange program in a smaller city I would have a lot less of those issues.
For example, some partner-led programs are in really big cities. In many cases, big cities are very international and so the chances that some people would just speak english to you are much higher. For me this is a deal breaker because I don’t want to have the option to “cheat” my way out of having to speak Italian and end up preventing myself from truly learning the language. ]

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THE FINAL DECISION :

After looking through each Italian Exchange Program that interested me:

I made the final decision to apply to study in Modena, Italy at the University of Modena ad Reggio Emilia!

Making the decision to study abroad and which exact program was not an easy one. There were a lot of factors to consider throughout the entire process. My professor and advisor Giulia Po’ DeLisle was very in favor of my decision! Shortly after applying to the program, Emily Zeitsev from the Office of International Experiences & Study Abroad contacted me to help and guide me through the pre-departure process.

At the end of the day though, I am really lucky to have the parents that I have. They have been very supportive of my decision and although they will always be worried for my safety, they also know this is a once in a lifetime experience that I have to take.

What a perfectly crazy way to end my college undergrad career! Abroad, and at yet another university! (If you’re still counting that makes 5!)

Welcome!

Follow this Fall 2018’s Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences Global Correspondent, Rosa Payes, on her studies in Modena, Italy!

Rosa is a UMass Lowell World Languages & Culture major with a Graphic Design minor studying this Fall on a UMass Lowell Exchange program with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE).

Rosa leaning on a rick. Follow this Fall 2018’s Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences Global Correspondent, Rosa Peyes, on her studies in Modena, Italy! Rosa is a UMass Lowell World Languages & Culture major with a Graphic Design minor studying this Fall on a UMass Lowell Exchange program with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE)

You can also read blogs from other trips to Italy and across the globe!