When the travel bug finds a potential globe trotter, it really latches on. Sophomore biology major Olivia Kamicker is a perfect example. Italy, England, Germany and Slovenia: all places she traveled to during her fall 2011 semester studying abroad in Geneva College’s Semester in Rome program.
Growing up on an old farm in Enon Valley, PA, Olivia may at first appear to be a small town girl, but she has always wanted to see the world. Since she was young, traveling has been part of her family. Her mother was a flight attendant and has always encouraged Olivia to try new things. “She wanted me to be practical about what I did during college. To get all my humanities course credits, I thought, ‘Why would I do it in Beaver Falls when I can do it in Rome?’”
Olivia saw the advertisements for the Semester in Rome program and was automatically drawn to it because this unique study-abroad opportunity includes Geneva curriculum taught by Geneva faculty. The first step she took to make the semester a possibility was taking required prerequisite courses just in case. As a biology major, she was initially worried that taking a semester away from her normal class load of science labs and lectures would set her behind, but faculty members were willing to help make the Rome semester possible for her.
In Rome, not only did Olivia study the humanities course work, she visited sites and locations that helped enhance her understanding of the material. A real hands-on approach to learning, this semester abroad was a great experience to add to her Geneva education.
Accepting the challenge to study abroad can be intimidating and scary to some, but to Olivia it was an adventure she couldn’t pass up. “I really am going to Rome!” were her thoughts as she left for Italy. As a commuter during her freshman year to Geneva’s main campus in Beaver Falls, her semester in Rome was her first time away from home—and very far away from home at that. One of the most unique things about Geneva’s Rome program is the community living aspect. “We had a small group of students which was nice,” she says. “You got to know everyone. It was really cool to have the realization that everyone comes from a different background. Getting to know everyone in that environment created a bond; we’ll always have a connection.”
Not surprisingly, one of the things that stands out about the Italian experience is the food. Olivia discovered that her favorite meal was tortellini with cream sauce and that the best seafood is in Venice. Students also take part in a cooking schedule to serve dinner for each other throughout the week. “I loved my cooking group,” she says. “We had a great time preparing meals for each other, and we tried to be creative!”
Picking a favorite memory or travel destination is hard when you’ve seen multiple cities across Europe all in one semester. Olivia made sure to cover the traveler’s bucket list, however. Riding a gondola in Venice? Check. Eating fish and chips in London? Check. Pasta in Italy? Check.
But if she had to pick just one thing, Olivia says her favorite trip through the program was when the class visited Pompeii. “I was always fascinated when reading about it,” she says. “Actually being there was amazing.”
One of the highlights of her semester was visiting Slovenia with her parents who came to visit during fall break. Knowing that she had family history on her father’s side in this country made their trip extra personal and special. “Slovenia was the most beautiful place. The Alps and the landscape were breathtaking.”
With her European adventure complete, Olivia hopes to continue her travels by taking some small trips here in America. “Europe was great because it was so easy and accessible to get around. Now, I want to see so much more of our country and truly appreciate the places close to home that I have never been.”
-Monica Miller ’12
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