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During my first year trip last fall, one of my new friends mentioned to me a study abroad program in Rome designed for first years. After going to a few interest meetings, I realized that this program may be something that I would really enjoy. This program is called the F.I.R.E. program (Full Immersion in Rome Experience) where students go in with no knowledge of the Italian language and start to learn it in Italy. Now, all I can say is that I just had one of the most memorable and amazing summers of my life.

Street in Rome
A street in Rome (that has good food)
Pyramid in Rome
and a selfie with a pyramid!

At Dartmouth, they not only encourage you to go on study-abroad programs but support you in doing so. Before I left, I met with the Financial Aid office to discuss how my financial aid would change while being abroad in Rome. It is typical for the office to add more to your Dartmouth general scholarship to help you pay for your plane tickets, increased food costs, and other adjusted costs of living. This actually made my term abroad a little cheaper than the ones at Dartmouth! However, also in my study abroad program, we each received one hundred dollars in "cultural funds" which we could use to experience something unique to Italian culture. Whether that was visiting the Castel Sant'Angelo or going to see an opera with friends, we all were lucky to have Dartmouth fund us even more with this.

Personally, I think my favorite use of my cultural fund was to go watch Bernstein's "Mass" which is a musical theater work. Although this performance is not in the Italian language, it was produced by an Italian production company and performed in the Baths of Caracalla. It was amazing to go with a few of my friends and see the work in person with the baths in the background which added to the set. Later on, my entire program went to go see The Barber of Seville at the same location which was also a stunning experience.

Bernstein's Mass
Bernstein's Mass pre-performance!
Pantheon Selfie
The Pantheon!

In addition, I would recommend that any Dartmouth student should attempt to study abroad at some point. Not only was this an amazing opportunity to explore my comfort zone but it also allowed me to take a step away from what I know to expand my horizons regarding my future. It gave me time to reset my plans for the future and enjoy the present. Plus, the financial aid could not have been better for this experience abroad.

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