Preparing for the Journey to Italy: Why I Chose to Study Abroad in Siena

Grace Wolf headshot
Grace Wolf
January 13, 2024

Throughout my life, I've always sought out thrills—be it through roller coasters, snorkeling, skiing, and more. Traveling, in particular, has been an incredible source of knowledge, providing me with experiences beyond imagination.

My first venture beyond the United States occurred during high school, a brief yet impactful trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Accompanied by a teacher and fellow students, we delved into the histories of these countries, attended cooking classes, and explored art shows. Although adjusting to the new environment took a few days, the experience turned out to be the time of my life, reshaping my perspective on history, food, and culture in a profound way.

Ever since that trip, I’ve dreamt about traveling and experiencing the world, as well as protecting its beautiful places. Deciding to study abroad in college was a no-brainer. The prospect of stepping outside my comfort zone and engaging with diverse perspectives and traditions was an opportunity I couldn't resist. It's not just about acquiring knowledge from textbooks but absorbing the nuances of daily life, language, and customs that textbooks often fail to encapsulate. This cultural immersion promises a holistic education that extends far beyond the boundaries of conventional learning. 

Deciding where and how I wanted to study abroad was a way more loaded question. 

Did I want to return to Asia and learn more about cultures I experienced, or study somewhere where I could enhance my knowledge of marine life and gain more experience in one of my favorite hobbies, scuba diving? Did I want to see the Australian rainforest or climb up Table Mountain in South Africa? 

This question burned in me for all of my first few years of college. The answer to the question changed often, as I’m sure it has for many of you looking to study abroad. I’ll share my answer for my ultimate decision to study abroad in Siena, Italy, and why I chose the Business and Economics of Italian Food and Wine program. 

As a student with foci in economics and environmental science, the chance to explore these disciplines in a global context was irresistible. The Siena program seamlessly integrates these interests allows me to delve into sustainability, food policy, and business practices while being surrounded by the rich cultural backdrop of Italy. It's a unique blend that promises not only academic enrichment but also a deeper understanding of the real-world implications of these subjects.

The decision to study in my program was further solidified by my gap year experiences. Working on a small organic nonprofit farm after high school was a transformative period that ignited my passion for agriculture and food. These newfound interests, coupled with my love for economics and policy, created a unique set of priorities that led me to select a program offering a comprehensive exploration of these interdisciplinary subjects. 

Additionally, my language background played a role in shaping my study abroad choice. Having studied Latin in high school and actively participating in the National Latin Exam competitions, the opportunity to learn Italian and trace the roots of Latin in its cultural and historical context adds an exciting linguistic dimension to my academic journey. It's not merely about mastering a new language but understanding the cultural nuances embedded in its roots, providing a more profound connection to the environment I'll be studying in. 

My decision to study abroad is a tapestry woven from threads of cultural curiosity, academic passion, experiential learning, linguistic exploration, and a commitment to sharing knowledge. It's a chance to break away from the familiar, embrace the unknown, and cultivate a global perspective that transcends the confines of traditional education. Studying abroad represents not just a chapter in my academic journey but a holistic and transformative odyssey that encompasses personal, cultural, and intellectual growth. 

Grace Wolf headshot

Grace Wolf

Hi! I’m Grace. I'm a first-generation, Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studying Economics and Environmental Science. I was raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, and I am an active scuba diver, yogi, and gardener. 

2024 Spring
Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
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