female study abroad student overlooking Rome, Italy

An Online Student's Study Abroad Adventure

As an Arizona Online student, you have the opportunity to earn credits while exploring the world. Online student Ashley, earning her BS in Care, Health & Society, spent her summer studying in Rome and describes her experience.

Why did you decide to do a study abroad trip?

I went back to school during the pandemic. I'm older than the traditional student, and when I ended a 5-year relationship last year, I was having a hard time and needed something to look forward to. It occurred to me that I could study abroad! I love Italy and was looking forward to traveling there again, so it felt like the perfect fit when I saw the program at the American University of Rome. (UAR)

study abroad student holding up a finished sketch of old buildings along Italy's Tiber river

How has your abroad trip impacted your experience as an online student? 

My freshman year in 2004 was on campus at the University of Arizona. So, I have had the in-person experience. That said, AUR was a completely different experience. I took a class called Roman Sketchbook, and we were drawing on-site for most of our classes. It was truly an immersive educational experience. There were moments when I truly couldn't believe that my weekday morning was sitting in a piazza, museum, or church while sketching and learning. It was an art, history, and culture class all in one. While it was great to have that experience of being in a classroom again, I appreciate online learning even more now because it is truly such a great fit for all I have going on in my life at this time.

What was the highlight of your trip?

AUR hosts a handful of weekend trips, but you can also travel on your own. One weekend, I went up to Modena and visited the Ferrari Museum. I'm not a car person, but this museum is, more than anything, about art and design and is remarkable. Further, the town of Modena is lovely and home to Modena Cathedral, one of Italy's most beautiful cathedrals. One of the great things about Italy is how easy it is to travel by train, so another highlight was just being able to go, see, do, and explore new towns and regions every weekend.

Online student at the Ferrari Museum in Italy

What did your study abroad teach you?

In the educational sense, I learned so much about art, culture, and history. And while it was nice to be in a classroom again, I truly am grateful for the opportunity to have classes online and have the flexibility to work while in school. Online is a great fit for me. Personally, and I think especially as someone who identifies as female, there was something truly special about traveling on my own. Not only was I able to do whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted because it was all up to me, but I was able to be comfortable with being on my own. Not to sound too much like a Hallmark movie, but it truly is a gift to be able to be your own best friend. The entire experience was empowering, and I truly can not recommend studying abroad enough. And, I think even more so if you fall into the "non-traditional" student category like myself.