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08 September 2017

Meet One of Our Study Abroad Peer Advisors: Maris Moon! #HogsAbroad

My favorite trip while abroad was definitely hiking in the Italian Dolomiti over Easter Break with some other students and a professor from the Rome Center. It was awesome to do something I love so much in another country.

Ciao a tutti! I’m Maris Moon, a senior here at the University of Arkansas. I am double majoring in International and European Studies, with which I am studying French and Italian. I studied abroad in the Spring of 2017 in Rome, Italy at the University of Arkansas Rome Center.

We visited the Vatican my first week in Rome. It was truly incredible, even in the rain!

I went into the Rome Center knowing nothing more than “ciao” in Italian (along with various food words, but I won’t count those), and with no idea just how much it would change my life and really give me a sense of what I wanted to do with my future career. Being in fresco-covered classrooms, along with having the Roman streets and museums as a classroom, I was nothing short of awestruck and inspired my entire four months. I got to firsthand experience and learn about countless ancient historical sites, famous artists and their works, and many European cities and cultures that I never really thought possible. I learned enough Italian to have conversations with people on the street, make my way through city transit (which is something you actually learn very quickly…) and to ask people to pet their dogs… No joke, that is the first main sentence I learned in Italian. Most of all, I got to not only experience the European culture- I got to LIVE it.

Standing on top of the Duomo in Florence

I know it sounds cliché, but studying abroad opened my eyes to so many things I never really knew or noticed about myself. It sparked passions in me for things I had never even thought of. I knew I loved traveling, but little did I know just how well I could navigate a new city’s transit each week and how much I loved meeting people in various hostels/planes. I knew I loved people, but little did I know how much seeing the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe would have such an effect on me. Living and being surrounded constantly by people of different ethnicities, cultures, and languages is now all that I want in life. And the great thing is- you have that opportunity to learn all of these things about yourself too! There is just something so freeing about being away from everything that you know- and I think it is very important for you to grow as a person. Study abroad provides the perfect opportunity for self-growth that many other things would not.

Professor Emilio with my roommate and I at some ancient Greek ruins in Southern Italy

On top of all of this, I loved studying abroad so much that I jumped on the opportunity to be a peer advisor at the Study Abroad Office as quickly as I could! I love that I have the opportunity to make people’s dreams to study abroad seem much more attainable and that I get to calm their fears by sharing my own experience. My biggest piece of advice is to strive to leave your comfort zone constantly- and to study abroad provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Don’t be afraid to call in and schedule an appointment with us- we are more than happy to help you find the perfect program for you! In the words of Shia LaBeouf- “JUST DO IT!”

I had multiple opportunities to travel while in Europe and got to spend my spring break between 3 cities in Spain and the Netherlands!

P.S. A quick warning: once you go abroad, you just want to do it over and over again. Travelling, especially abroad, is addicting. But we were made to do more than just sit and watch Netflix, right?


Maris studied abroad at our University of Arkansas Rome Center with the help of our Office of Study Abroad Scholarship.

Come meet Maris and the other peer advisors at a Hogs Abroad 101 information meeting! These hour-long sessions are held Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the fall and spring semesters, from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm in the Center for World Languages, Literatures and Cultures (JBHT 207).