By Rachel Cessna, senior in journalism and mass communication
Although Urbino is a few hours from major Italian cities, it’s surrounded by a number of beautiful small towns. Comparable to Ames, Urbino has a close-knit community feel and you can get to most places in town just by walking. The city is beautiful, and I got a view of the mountains and hills every day on the walk to classes. At night, the buildings light up, and it feels like a true Renaissance city.
Nothing beats taking a photojournalism course in Italy. Instead of sitting in a lecture, Dennis Chamberlin often took us outside on sunny days to take photos of the street life in Urbino. We also took trips to Florence, Siena, Rome and smaller towns nearby. Economics class in Ames doesn’t compare to art history taught in a Florentine museum. We also studied Italian, literature and political thought. I can’t wait to see how I can apply what I’ve learned to my future journalism career.
When I think of Italy I almost always think about the food and the food in Urbino did not disappoint. On the main hill leading to the center of Urbino there are two of the best pizza places I’ve been to. Every few weeks and on class trips we had group dinners where we were served a variety of pastas, cheeses, meats, vegetables and more. I always end up trying something new.
After living in Urbino a few months, I became a familiar face at many cafés, restaurants and gelato shops. Despite the language barrier, the people in Urbino always try their best to understand you. My favorite memories are from Mama’s café where Mario greeted me almost every morning with a smile and a fresh chocolate croissant and from Sugar café where the owner, Giovanni Garbugli, always made us feel welcome and even made us dinner some nights.
I have to admit that studying abroad can be nerve-racking. You’re often leaving behind your family and friends to go live in a foreign country. At first, I was worried about being lonely, but after a few days I found I connected right away with the other students on our trip. I didn’t realize they would all be just as nervous as me. Often, our group of 12 would go out to eat, hang out in each other’s rooms and walk to class together. After only a few months, I made some great friends whom I hope to stay connected back at Iowa State.
Of course you can travel to Europe from the United States, but chances are you won’t find a flight to Barcelona, Spain, for less than $50. I’m so thankful that studying in Urbino has given me the opportunity to explore Europe without going over budget. Even if you don’t want to leave the country, there are many beautiful places right in Italy that you can reach with a simple bus or train ride.
Sometimes change is scary, but in order to grow as a person it’s often necessary. Studying abroad in Urbino means a whole lot of change and while it may be intimidating, the experience makes it worth it. I grew to be more independent, I traveled places alone and I ate foods I never would’ve given a chance a year ago. Now that I’m home, Im thankful for this change and how it’s helped me learn more about myself.
This post is one in a series of blog posts written by Iowa State University students who studied abroad in Urbino, Italy, in spring 2018 with Dennis Chamberlin, Greenlee School associate professor. The program focuses on mobile image making, Italian language, Renaissance art history and literature and the history of food and culture. The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication will offer the program in collaboration with LAS Study Abroad in spring 2020.