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Spartans of UD - Bella Como

By University Relations Staff

Spartans of UD highlights what makes the University of Dubuque special - the people.

Bella Como, of Carol Stream, Illinois, is a senior biology and psychology double major. She participated in a fall 2023 semester abroad at Sant'Anna Institute in Sorrento, Italy, through CIS Abroad.

What inspired you to study abroad for a semester?

"I have always enjoyed traveling, and I want to see and explore as much of the world I can. I find the world so fascinating from what it offers us as well as how different people and cultures can be. Studying abroad for a semester gave me the opportunity to experience a whole new culture and place for an extended period of time and learn more about the world and human experience."

How was your educational experience on the Italian Coast different and similar to your educational experience at the University of Dubuque?

"The largest difference in my experience was how the classes were structured when compared to UD. At Sant'Anna, we had no classes on Friday to have more time to travel and really make the most of your time abroad. The classes had less homework, and the classwork was more lecture, discussion, and presentation based. Each class had one or two field visits built into the program to relate our class topics to outside of the classroom. For example, in my marine biology class we had the opportunity to visit the Bay of Ieranto, which is naturally protected waters along the Amalfi Coast, and we snorkeled and kayaked and even did a lecture on site about conservation and its importance. The types of classes the school offered were also different when compared to UD. The credits are the same. During my semester abroad, I took 13 credits but some of my friends were taking up to 18, and there were also internship opportunities to partake in."

What were some of the highlights from your semester abroad?

"I have so many highlights from my time in Sorrento. I think my favorite part was all the traveling I was able to do. In Italy I visited many towns along the Amalfi Coast such as Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, and I went to Capri twice. Other major cities I also went to included Florence, Venice, Matera, and Rome. Outside of Italy, I went to Nice, London, Poland, Barcelona, and Prague. Another highlight was scuba diving in the Mediterranean Sea; it was definitely one of the coolest things I have ever done."

What advice would you give to other Spartans interested in studying abroad for a semester?

"I am so grateful that I was able to spend a semester abroad. I had so much fun, learned a lot, and experienced so many new things. I think the biggest piece of advice I would give is to have the courage to try it. Though you may seem apprehensive to be so far from home, you are not alone and everyone on this journey with you is experiencing the same thing. I was nervous about meeting people, but I made such great friends. I still talk to them daily. We also have a great resource for studying abroad at UD with Maggie Appel-Schumacher, director of international student services and study abroad. She helped me throughout this whole process including looking into programs where I would want to go, the application process, preparing to go, and even checking in with me during my time in Italy."

In your opinion, what makes the University of Dubuque unique?

"I think our faculty and staff is what really sets UD apart from others. We have so many educators that care about you as people and students and form relationships with you and truly want to see you succeed in life. We have great maintenance and facility staff that keep our campus looking beautiful and give us the opportunity to utilize all resources UD has to offer."