“Even though the structure of every class is very similiar, it's the cultural difference that was hard to figure out. That was a cool struggle.”
Rita participated in the Business Exchange program through the Carlson School as part of her coursework in her Marketing major. The program allowed her to earn academic credit toward her major, learn about Italian culture firsthand, and fulfill her longstanding goal of studying abroad as a part of her undergraduate career.
Rita’s time in Italy fit exactly into her course of study at the University of Minnesota. She had been planning to study abroad since before entering the University, and had made sure that her four-year plan included the chance to travel. During her time in Milan, she had quite a bit of flexibility in choosing her courses. She took a comparative business law course taught by a US American professor, which she found to be very interesting. She thought that the biggest challenge was being taught by Italian professors. "Even though the structure of every class is very similar, it was that cultural difference that was hard to figure out," she said. "That was a cool struggle, and I’ve learned something from it."
Rita is hoping to find a career with an international dimension, but she understands that it will come with more experience in the field. In the mean time, she finds that seeking out international visitors on campus or elsewhere helps her continue to learn and grow. "I can’t travel over there, but I can have a really fantastic conversation with someone, and in some way that suffices the need to go abroad for that day."
Rita also enjoyed the cultural experiences she had outside of the classroom. Living with an Italian roommate, she had the opportunity to learn about daily life, routines, and family relationships. She said that integrating her life with her roommate’s was one of the most interesting and difficult parts of her experience, but that she thoroughly enjoyed it. She also misses the challenge of daily life in another culture and language. She said, “I was surprised when I returned that I missed that rush. Every day, everything was so exciting, because there was this challenge in front of you. You come back with that ability to do just about anything in day-to-day life.”
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