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Aliya Loney's semester with Maryland-in-Rome

Program: Maryland-in-Rome (Italy)
Term: Spring 2023
Major: Hearing and Speech Sciences
Social Media Handle: @aliyaloney

During my study abroad experience I learned much more about myself than I thought I would. 

I realized that I am more independent than I thought as I took opportunities to explore and solo travel. I also learned that I am more outgoing and sociable than I thought as I was able to make lots of new friendships and talk to people I may not have been able to interact with before. I expanded my social network greatly as I met people from all over the world and also a lot of students from UMD that I may not met without study abroad! I also learned how adventurous I really am and how much I love to travel, after seeing how much of an impact it made on me. I feel that all of these skills combined will significantly help me in my future both academically and professionally.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: 

As a woman of color, studying abroad in a predominantly white country with very little diversity was something I thought a lot about prior to leaving for my trip. While on my trip, my friends and I did encounter a lot of discrimination, staring, etc. which impacted us a lot. My advice to other students who are planning to go abroad is to ignore ignorant people while also standing up for yourself. It is important not to engage too much with such people but still stick up for yourself and your beliefs.

As a transfer student, prior to studying abroad I was beginning to think it was not a possibility for me. I have always known since I was young that I wanted to study abroad. My major advisor did not advise me to do so and I felt pretty alone when starting the process. But I was able to figure out the process on my own and get into the program without any problem. I also thought prior to studying abroad that I would need to be going with someone to have any fun, but this is not at all true. I did not know anyone in this program before leaving, and I came back with a whole new friend group and a lot of friends across the world that I would never have met before. Do not be discouraged if you don't know anybody going you will make a ton of amazing friends!

One of my most important memories that I feel stood out to me the most amongst my study abroad experience was when I went on a solo trip to Cinque Terre, Italy. 

As a woman, it can often be daunting and anxiety inducing to think about taking a solo trip, especially in a whole different continent. However I did my research on how safe this location and made sure I had a safe place to stay and it became a lot less scary than I thought. While on the trip I felt extremely proud of myself for going to restaurants and asking for a table for one and doing other activities on my own. It felt nice to be able to plan a trip based completely on my wants and needs. It was eye opening to show myself that I could travel on my own and I definitely plan to do it again.

The hardest part about studying abroad that I didn't anticipate was adjusting to a new type of education system. 

I of course expected culture shock and that was difficult to get through at times, but because we had instructors from all over the world, there were many different teaching styles presented to us. In my opinion, it was much different from the US and took some time to get used to, but it is all about being open to the challenge. I wanted to do well in my classes so I tried my best to adjust to the teaching styles.

If I hadn't studied abroad, I would have never sang Karaoke at an Irish pub in Rome with my classmates.

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