Name: Kevin Tatla
Study Abroad: Turin, Italy (Fall 2015 semester-Feb 2016)
For most people, deciding to study abroad is a big decision with a lot of contemplation and preparation. For Kevin Tatla, however, it was more of a spur the moment decision to study abroad for 5 months of his university degree.
In March, Kevin decided that he wanted to travel and see the world. So, what better way to do it than living abroad for school? He applied to go to the University of Turin (Universita Degli Studi Di Turino) in Italy for the fall semester, and began prepping for the adventure.
“I was so excited, and it was even more exciting and crazy doing it kind of last minute. I began my application in March and was in Italy in September. Most students apply almost a year in advance but my decision was very last minute!”
Kevin was able to settle in quickly at the university, finding the classes interesting and the university welcoming. He found that the international students all had the commonality of being away from home, in a country that spoke another language, and he quickly found friends in his classes and roommates.
“I lived in two different places. After the first two months, I moved to a place that was closer to city center. It was nice being closer to the city and things to do! And my roommates were great! I had an Italian roommate – it was kind of hard to communicate because he only spoke Italian – a Brazilian roommate, and a Dutch roommate. My Dutch friend and roommate was half Italian, and his family owns a gelato place in the Netherlands. We all got along pretty well, and had a great time!”
Kevin mentioned that it was hard with the language barrier sometimes, especially in the suburbs. In the suburbs, smaller towns, and different parts of the country, communicating could be hard when the people only speak Italian or certain dialects, and you only speak English. For students going to a country with a language barrier, this could be a problem – but it doesn’t have to be a problem.
“You just kind of do hand gestures and you figure things out as you go. It all works out in the end! Studying abroad can lead to some pretty crazy adventures and you learn to just roll with whatever comes. I had some very interesting situations, but it was always something you could figure out and get through some way or somehow.”
The best things about study abroad are the friends, the culture, and travelling. Italy of course can offer all of this.
“Being a student in economics and business, I was excited for the opportunity to meet people in other places and experience other cultures. Of course the economics are quite different over there too, as the Euro is stronger than the dollar and credit or debit cards can’t be used in so many places. But the food and culture were so incredible to experience! In the smaller villages, I went to wine and cheese festivals, and really got to see the local and authentic Italy. Those experiences were probably some of my favourites!”
Italy is of course known for the wine and the carbs, but you have to truly experience it to understand how amazing it is. Kevin talked about the pizza and pasta, the gelato and so many wines, and how they were all some of the most delicious cuisine he had – and living in Italy, you can have it whenever you want! And the culture goes along with it, being more relaxed and laid back than the crazy North American lifestyle.
“It was nice to live in a more relaxed culture, where life wasn’t so rushed. It was very different to the everyday life here in North America, where you seemingly run from one place to another and are stressed about work or school the majority of the time. It was something I noticed a lot coming home and going straight back to full time work. It made me miss the days of travelling and relaxing in Italy.”
Travel is kind of an essential part of studying abroad. Kevin took opportunities to travel around Italy to places like Venice, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Rome, and Milan. He also traveled through parts of Europe, like many other students who have gone to study in Europe, seeing places like Ireland (Dublin), Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, and France. He met people he had studied with, and encountered new people along the way.
“I loved travelling, seeing my friends again and travelling with them. I met new people while travelling too, which is always a great part of travelling. And of course there were adventures along the way as well, trying to find a hostel in Budapest or trying to get from one place to another.”
It was also an interesting experience being away during so many holidays.
“Being in Italy, in Europe from September to February meant that I was abroad during Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, and many birthdays. It was interesting being away from home during these holidays, but getting to experience other festivals and the way they celebrate their holidays. I actually enjoyed experiencing holidays and festivals through the eyes of a different culture.”
Study abroad always affects people in different ways, but it definitely always brings amazing adventures, experiences, travels, and friends. For Kevin, it was no exception.
“I really enjoyed my time abroad in Italy, all the travelling I did, the culture I experienced, and the people I met. It was an incredible experience. After being home for a couple weeks, it seemed kind of unreal that it had happened. Settling back into life here was easy, as nothing seemed to change, and I went straight back to working full time.
But I know that after a bit of time, the want to travel and go back to Italy will hit hard, and I’ll be walking around with my passport in my pocket, just in case I decide to go on another last minute adventure.”