Home » news » Summer Exploration Grant Recipient Gains Insight in Italy

Summer Exploration Grant Recipient Gains Insight in Italy

Eva Kahn in Italy

Last summer, with the help of the School of Undergraduate Studies (UGS) Summer Exploration Grant, Eva Kahn studied abroad in Rome. Eva, now a humanities major, shares her experience taking classes and traveling.

What did you do this summer?
I attended the Rome Institute of Liberal Arts summer program, a study abroad program affiliated with UT. My class, Empire and the Soul, focused on political philosophy and Roman history. Each morning my seminar would discuss various readings and, in the afternoons, we explored Rome! We visited museums and monuments together and we would talk about art, history, and philosophy.

What was your favorite part about your academic experience?
I loved the method of learning and teaching in our seminar-style class. Instead of a lecture, we sat in a circle and discussed a question posed by the professor. The professors supported the discussion but they didn’t chime in with new information. The seminar classes sparked a peer-to-peer relationship that continued outside of the classroom as we explored Rome. Our conversations were at a higher intellectual level and the relationships I formed with professors were closer than I’ve had before. I found that they took us more seriously than in a traditional lecture.

What about your favorite non-academic part?
The group of people that were in my program. They were engaged and interested in exploring the city and being adventurous. I discovered the type of people that I’m drawn to and can form fulfilling relationships with, which is helpful in thinking about what kind of career I want to have.

On that note, did this experience inform or change your major or career goals?
After this summer, I’ve prioritized the type of people I want to be around more than just the work that I’ll be doing. Additionally, I’m seriously considering living outside of the country when I graduate from college. I want to experience a new place, make new friends, and form a community. Now I know that’s a possibility.

While I don’t have a clear vision of my career goals, this summer clarified what a path into academia looks like. The professors talked a lot about their life and career trajectories. I’m considering it as an option and have a clearer view of it. Eventually, when I have to make some decisions about my future, I’ll be much more informed.

What advice would you give to UGS students thinking about traveling and taking courses next summer?
Definitely do it! My biggest piece of advice pertains to language. Try to be as prepared as possible. The language barrier, for me, was more than I anticipated. I wasn’t able to make friends with people outside of the program since we were always speaking English with each other. I realized it’s important for me to connect with the people I’m living around through conversation.

Prioritize either knowing people going in or making friends once you get there. Being able to walk around the city with someone or go out to dinner with someone makes such a difference, not only in your safety but also in your ability to learn things about the place you’re in. Being in a foreign country on my own was an empowering experience. I feel more like a citizen of the world.

I appreciate the Summer Exploration Grant so much! I would not have been able to do this without it.

About the Summer Exploration Grant

The UGS Summer Exploration Grant gives undeclared students the opportunity to explore their interests over summer break. Grants can be requested in any amount up to $2,000, and have helped undeclared students conduct research, take unpaid internships, enroll in professional development opportunities, and more. Whether you’re looking to participate in a research project or creative activity, the Summer Exploration Grant can help you fully realize your vision. Applications are open now and the deadline to apply is March 11, 2022.