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Emma Fornes

Piacenza, Italy: Macroeconomics and Ethics

Emma on the right posing with two friends on a balcony in Italy.
Emma (right) with two friends in Italy.

My study abroad experience helped me realize that I want to explore a career in Europe post-graduation. I surprised myself with the independence I gained and I realized that I could pursue my dream of working abroad.  

Emma Fornes

Business Administration Major

Why did you choose to study abroad?
My dad inspired me to study abroad. He had an amazing experience studying abroad with NC State the summer after his freshman year. He’s always spoken so highly of his trip and the growth that accompanied it. I decided to follow in his footsteps and also study abroad the summer after my freshman year. Without his influence, I still likely would have studied abroad. While I love the convenience and comfort that is my family living 15 minutes away from campus, I feel that I didn’t truly get the typical experience that most kids get in college. I wanted to discover my own independence. I’m immensely glad that I took the leap and studied abroad; I gained more than just independence, I gained a new perspective on life. 

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I’d advise future study abroad students or anyone who is considering studying abroad to not be afraid; just do it! Yes, leaving the country alone is a daunting experience, but I promise you the journey is worth it. When you’re abroad, take advantage of everything your host country has to offer! Fully explore the culture, try new foods, and take weekend excursions. You’ll never be 20 living in a foreign country ever again. 

What did you learn about yourself from studying abroad?
I learned that I really enjoy my own company. Most days after class, I’d go explore the city of Piacenza on my own. I ended up finding nooks of my own, like this amazing ice cream shop, or Grazzano Visconti, a medieval village. I would even take runs beyond the city, soaking up Italy’s natural scenery and people watching. I’d never really felt comfortable with only my own presence until I went abroad. Now I look forward to traveling in the future and hope to explore foreign places by myself again this summer, when I go to Germany! 

Emma posing with friends in front of the Milan soccer stadium.
Emma and friends at San Siro Stadium in Milan.

What is one of your favorite memories or experiences from studying abroad?
There were so many, but I’d have to say going to my first European soccer game in Milan, Italy. Around half of our cohort bought tickets to the Intermilan game (I honestly forget who they were playing) and decided to take the train and make a day out of it. We walked through Milan and saw amazing sights and we decided to eat in Chinatown, which was really cool. We were all blown away by the sheer size of the stadium. There was this giant spiral ramp where we walked up all the way to the top floor (probably a 10 minute walk from the bottom). The team scored two goals in the first two minutes—the crowd went wild. The energy of the stadium was electric, I definitely felt the culture of Italy more than anywhere else. We had an incredible time together and all really bonded for the first time. But overall, exploring Italy with my peers was probably the most concentrated amount of fun I’ve ever had. 

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
My study abroad experience helped me realize that I want to explore a career in Europe post-graduation. I’d always had an itch to leave the country, but I wasn’t sure if I could have the courage to leave everything and start over, alone. However, I surprised myself with the independence I gained and I realized that I could pursue my dream of working abroad.  

Emma with friends near a field in Italy.
Emma and friends in Italy.

What is a concern that you had before departing on your program? How did you overcome it?
Before departing to Piacenza, I was most concerned about whether or not I’d fit in with my cohort. I didn’t really know anyone coming in minus one kid from my high school. I knew how much time we’d all have to spend together and was honestly really worried about this new dynamic. My anxiety couldn’t have been more wrong. While I was nervous to break out of my shell, I navigated my way through the group and ended up finding some of my best friends. Shoutout to Maeve, Anyah, Matt, and Mihir for being incredible friends to share my Piacenza experience with. Even the people I wasn’t as close with were so awesome, I really enjoyed everyone’s presence and would go back in a heartbeat and not change a thing.