Student Spotlight: Kenzie Levy ’18

Student Spotlight: Kenzie Levy ’18

What is it like to be a BuzzFeed intern? 

Being an intern at BuzzFeed is one of the most incredible opportunities that any individual who is looking to enter either the media or tech industries can be fortunate enough to attain. During the internship program, an intern will have a designated manager who he or she will shadow throughout the internship, in addition to various group projects with the other interns within a designated department. No day is exactly the same, but each day will present a different learning experience.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do so far?

In addition to seeing Ken Burns speak, watching MisterWives and ZZ Ward perform, attending a talk between interns and Jonah (BF’s CEO), meeting the fashion director of Saks, and attending both the company and business All Hands meetings, on the first day of my internship, I got to attend the world premiere of the movie Rough Night with my manager and saw ScarJo and Zoe Kravitz from afar. I also got to be featured in a BuzzFeed video… which was pretty awesome. Although these are incredible opportunities that I never would have gotten to experience if I wasn’t accepted into the BuzzFeed Summer Internship Program, my favorite part of working at the company is interacting with the multitude of intelligent and talented individuals who are not only working full-time at the organization, but are also interning beside me. My manager is incredible, and she has made this experience so worthwhile by onboarding me in the realm of Client Services, and fully encouraging me to immerse myself in every opportunity possible. From letting me attend a speaker series with BuzzFeed’s president, to volunteering for me to be in a BuzzFeed video, to inviting me to team lunches and dinners, she has made me feel extremely included and valued. Additionally, my assigned “buddy,” who used to intern at BuzzFeed and now works in the company’s Client Services department, has constantly provided me with insight about the company, and has acted as a supportive sounding board during my short time here. This synthesis of BuzzFeed’s employees’ genuine care combined with additional benefits has made this summer at BuzzFeed one of the best experiences of my life.

How has a school like Trinity helped prepare you for this opportunity? 

I will never forget sitting with twenty-five other interns around a conference table at my internship last summer as everyone went around and introduced themselves and announced where they attended college. After a hearing a series of large schools such as, “University of Michigan,” “Colorado State,” and “University of Florida,” I sheepishly said, “Trinity College… In Hartford, Connecticut.” I am always proud to divulge that I attend Trinity, but I’m also always prepared that people may or may not know where it is, or which Trinity I’m talking about. After stating my school, my fellow interns immediately whipped their heads toward me and said, “Oh my gosh do you know *insert name of Trinity student or alum here*!?” Roughly half of the table knew someone who attended Trinity, which I feel is remarkable given the school’s student population, and speaks to the community and its reputation. What I learned from that summer (and have continued to learn since that moment) was to never underestimate Trinity’s network. When I first started at Trinity, I was a little apprehensive about how I could possibly incorporate my love of media at a liberal arts college that didn’t technically provide the opportunity to major in “Communications” or “Marketing.” However, I turned down multiple communications and media programs to come to Trinity because I knew that the school’s smallness would provide me with the opportunity to build relationships with my professors and classmates. I hoped that I could mold my college experience and curate it towards my interests in a way that would eventually help me to build my resume. This summer at BuzzFeed, my manager has reiterated, “You’re so involved at your school!” As rising senior at Trinity, my advice would be to explore which clubs, classes, and jobs or internships both on and off campus relate to your interests, and don’t be afraid to get involved. If a platform for your passion doesn’t exist on campus, most likely, the school and the student body will support you and allow you to create it.

Do you hope to continue working in a similar field post-graduation? 

Absolutely. Ever since I was a freshman in high school, I have been fascinated by the ways that textual and visual narrative (and combinations of the two types) can both explicitly and subliminally affect human interaction.

What’s your favorite BuzzFeed quiz to take? 

Ohhh good question. I don’t have a specific favorite per say, but anything with baby animals is definitely a good bet.

Campaign for Community Timeline

Campaign for Community Timeline

Alicia ’18 and Tyler ’19 have spent their summer working on a timeline for Campaign for Community, that will debut this September. I interviewed them to learn more about it, how the Trinity community helped them bring it to life, and what it has been like for them to spend the summer with one another. 

What is the project you’re working on? Tyler: Our project is a timeline of Trinity’s diversity, and we aim to display how the Trinity community has changed and developed to what we see today from what the first class looked like in 1823.​

Alicia: Our goal is to show the Trinity community how we’ve undergone many changes throughout the years, and how those changes have been brought to fruition thanks to students, faculty, and administration working together. We want students to be inspired when they read about our history and also feel empowered to continue to improve our community.

How has Trinity College helped you bring this project to life?

Tyler: This project would not have been possible without the resources we accessed at the Watkinson, the books of Peter J. Knapp and Glenn Weaver on Trinity’s history, and the very experienced and insightful faculty at Trinity. The Watkinson was especially helpful and we are very grateful to all of the librarians there.

Alicia: One of the best parts of this project has been getting to connect with different faculty, staff and alumni. Everyone who hears about the project is immediately interested and excited to help out, and it’s been great getting to sit down with some members of our community who have been instrumental in bringing about some of the changes we now take for granted at Trinity.

What has it been like to work with each other?

Tyler: Without Alicia, I would have struggled to finish this project in its entire glory. It was a lot to take on and she helped me stay afloat. I would not have wanted to do this project with anyone else. I am so grateful for Alicia’s insight, creative contributions and friendship.

Alicia: I’ve loved working with Tyler! I think we both have our own strengths — he’s able to keep a million dates in his head and has a strong grasp on Hartford history, and I try to be really deliberate about every word that we use on the timeline and making sure each entry has a context and narrative. I’ve enjoyed seeing our strengths come together for this project and learning all the random Hartford facts that Tyler knows.

When will this project be debuting? Where can students, and the community at large, see it?

Tyler:  The project should be debuting in September. We are very excited for the unveiling and plan to invite everyone involved in forming it, whether that be if we got information from them or they are actually on it themselves, and a nice ceremony will commemorate all of our hard work. 

Alicia: Unveiling all of our research will be the highlight of this project! This will be a permanent exhibit in the Cave, so any member of the community will be able to enjoy it and learn about our history.

What are your own personal involvements here at Trinity, outside of Campaign for Community? 

Tyler: My own personal involvements besides Campaign includes Newman Club, Neuroscience Club, Club Soccer, Club Basketball, Club Tennis, and what I’m also especially proud of besides Campaign is being a part of Charleston House of Interfaith.

Alicia: Other than working on this, I have spent my summer helping with the programming of Orientation and transforming the first-year experience from the moment first-years step foot onto Trinity — it’s been so exciting seeing all the improvements from since we were first-years! During the year, I’m involved with Amnesty International, the Chapel Community, and the Beacon Newsmagazine. 

Interview with Michael Acosta ’13

Interview with Michael Acosta ’13

I had the privilege of interviewing Michael Acosta ’13, who is a co-owner of Story and Soil, Hartford’s newest coffee shop. In addition to coffee, we had the chance to discuss his time at Trinity, his favorite thing to order, and the wonderful city of Hartford. 

When did you graduate from Trinity? What did you study, and what was your experience there like?

I graduated Trinity College in 2013 with a Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in Philosophy. By design most of my classes were multidisciplinary since I love the intersections of neuroscience and analytic and existential philosophy. I found my niche at Trinity very early on in the Underground coffeehouse, where I would eventually be manager as a Graduate Assistant, and Cleo of Alpha where I’m currently alumni treasurer. I loved my professors and always kept a busy and diverse class load. Being part of multiple groups on campus meant that many more people to discuss life and current events with.

Story and Soil just opened, and you’re a co-owner—what was the process like, of conceiving of this idea and then bringing it to life?

Before Story and Soil Coffee I started another coffee project called N2 Coffee. N2 Coffee was a way for me to introduce local Connecticut specialty coffee in an approachable and fun way. Mobile nitro cold brew was certainly a great way to start the conversation about interesting coffees and the awesome people behind them. I ran N2 Coffee part-time while also studying at Trinity College and then working as a research technician at a biomedical company in Hartford.

Story and Soil Coffee came about when Sarah and Michael McCoy approached me about starting a coffee business in Hartford back in October 2016. In preparation for launching and finding funding for Story and Soil I joined the Social Enterprise Incubator at reSET in Hartford. I had a specific idea of what kind of coffee, service and hospitality program I wanted, but the three of us had to conceptually and at many points literally build the physical space from the ground up. The shop is located in a 128 year old historic building and needed an incredible amount of structural work.

Most of our time was spent finding funding and building a strong business plan. The actual build-out took about four months from floor boards and studs, to final design and equipment. It was important to test our branding and model within our Hartford community and so we participated in a number of events during the build-out, including the first KNOW GOOD Market of the 2017 season, which is run by fellow alumnus Jeffrey Devereux.

What’s the story behind the name ‘Story and Soil’?

The name was directly inspired by the Bright Eyes album titled Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep your Ear to the Ground. My partners and I also had multiple inspirations for the name during our endless discussions since it quietly spoke to our emphasis on the origin of coffee, the terroir and agricultural component of specialty coffee, as well as the beauty of the communities that coffee shops find themselves in, and the stories and common ground they stimulate.

Why did you choose Hartford as its’ location?

As a foodie and through N2 Coffee I met many of the creatives, restaurateurs, farmers, organizers, and passionate Hartford residents that make our Capital city beat and whom are leading the movement to revitalize Hartford. This community and economic and cultural outlook made Hartford a great city to set up shop. This vibrancy and enterprising spirit has also been through out the specialty coffee community in Connecticut over the past 5 years. A number of shops run by young and passionate entrepreneurs have popped up and made a real imprint in the coffee industry and their communities. Hartford and Frog Hollow in particular needed a quality driven community shop that was committed to providing an inclusive and fun space.

And since opening, how has Hartford taken to Story and Soil?

So far Hartford has embraced Story and Soil with grace, curiosity and open arms. Our guests include city workers, local business owners, residents, students, and friends. There is certainly more excitement than confusion on any given day (albeit we are on our fourth day of soft opening). We get more questions about our flights and cocktail inspired coffee drinks than our business model, and our guests are definitely getting savvy to the tasting portions of our coffee menu. Guests have loved our vinyl record selection.

How did your time at Trinity help bring you to where you are today?

Even while taking a number of labs a semester, Trinity made it easy to include exciting classes that provided respite, stimulation and perspective. Professors at Trinity reward critical thought, and breadth of knowledge and interests, allowing for deep dives into a variety of subjects throughout your four years of study. While building my potential career in biotechnology, I never felt shy about continuing to pursue my passion in coffee. I traveled to Colombia, attended conferences and built a rapport in the coffee community that helped me launch N2 Coffee, and eventually Story and Soil Coffee.

Finally: what’s your favorite coffee and food order? Any recommendations for Story and Soil first-timers?

I would begin with an espresso float, and then order a flight of the seasonal espresso and pour over, pairing it with the avocado toast (smashed avocado, roasted garlic, salt and pepper). A glass of hibiscus ginger kombucha or mineral water would be a great finisher.

Guests should feel welcomed to explore our menu or order their regular drink. We promise to have something for everyone, and strive to welcome you into our shop with warmth and gratitude.

Student Spotlight: Anastasia Menshikova ’18

Student Spotlight: Anastasia Menshikova ’18

Anastasia Menshikova ’18 is a rising senior with a lot of ambition! Currently, she works with NASA as a Data Science Intern, where she does in-depth analyses of human trafficking data to spot trends and correlations within that data. In our interview, she shares what it’s like to work on something so important.

Hometown: Riga, Latvia

Class year: 2018

Major: Computer Science

Involvement at school: Employee at Trinfo Cafe, Teacher Assistant, former member of Elemental Movement Dance, and Vice President of the Computer Science Club.

What is it like to work at NASA?

So I’m a data science intern for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. And it’s great! It involves a lot of challenging work, but I’m gaining priceless skills both in terms of computer science and general communication. I’m also gaining skills in group work, since I work in a team with other JPL employees. Even though I’m an intern, I am considered a full member of the team and I get to work on real-life projects. All of the work, due to the governmental nature of the place, are aimed at aiding various governmental institutions, and so I actually get to contribute toward helping solve real-life issues, like human trafficking in the US. The fact that my contribution might be helpful in tackling human trafficking is very inspiring and it definitely makes me feel like all of my hard work up to this point has been worth it. Doing coding for school or for your own projects is one thing, working in a team and resolving national issues is another.

What else do you do there?

I do data science/machine learning, and one of my main projects involves improving my previously created sentiment analysis parser, creating improved machine learning models and doing some very in-depth analysis of human trafficking data to spot trends and correlations within the data. It’s all part of a big project called MEMEX which is governed by DARPA. My other project is for the department of homeland security, and it involves detecting technical standards within statements of work and project proposals that get submitted to the department.

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve gotten to do as a result of your internship?

One of the most exciting things for me personally, as I mentioned earlier, is working on something that actually contributes to the betterment of people’s lives (by helping to tackle human trafficking)–but also, because of that, I went to Washington DC for a few days to the DARPA headquarters for a hackathon, that is also aimed at working towards the human trafficking project.

How has this internship helped your career goals?

This internship has definitely helped me to explore different areas of computer science, develop more passion for my major, and actually realize that there are so many incredible things I can work on because of computer science!

Student Spotlight: Michael Zarra ’19

In our interview, Michael Zarra ’19 tells us how Trinity helped him find an internship at Boston Children’s Hospital, what he does there, and what it is like to be one of Trinity’s Catalyst interns! 

Hometown: Cheshire, CT

Class year: Class of 2019

Major: Neuroscience

Involvement at school: Men’s Track, Research, Student Senate, Habitat for Humanity, Theater

How did Trinity help you find your internship at Boston Children’s Hospital? 

I found my internship at Boston Children’s Hospital through Trinity’s Career Link portal. The career development center was integral in helping me reach out to alumni at BCH, and writing a cover letter. I would have been far less successful without their support!

What made you want to intern there? 

I have been interested in healthcare for a long time, but my passion for pediatric neurology developed through my time volunteering at the Institute of Living in Hartford my Freshman year. I knew the chance to work in a children’s hospital with the reputation of BCH, and specifically in the Neurology Department, would be an invaluable opportunity to gain experience and exposure with a population I love.

What is a regular day there like?

I’ve learned there are no regular days in the BCH Quality Improvement Department. There are numerous projects ongoing simultaneously, and many team members from administers to doctors, nurses, and consultants whose ideas all need to be integrated into the patient care process. Most days I have a list of goals for a specific project that I set for myself with the help of my team. There are usually meetings with staff and physicians to incorporate clinical experience into our data analysis. Projects can take years to complete, so it’s a lot about monitoring and fine tweaking to shape the path towards a desired outcome.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far? 

Although there have been many surprises throughout the journey this experience has afforded me, one of the biggest revelations has been seeing what doctors do outside of the clinic. The amount of research, teaching, team building, and barbecues they host was unexpected. I have been fortunate to be able to interview applicants for positions within the QI Neurology Department, and I was very shocked to learn doctors were leaving clinical positions for administrative one because, “it allows them to better help the patients”. That was a perspective I had never considered.

How has being a Catalyst intern shaped your experience?

Being a Catalyst intern has helped in more ways than one. Although I still made the choice to get a second job while in Boston, the Catalyst program has afforded me the ability to live close to my internship. With that comes the ability to dedicate more hours to my internship and augment my experience. Paying for food, rent, and other living expenses has been much less of a burden then it would have been without the stipend that the Catalyst Initiative offered. However most importantly, the ongoing support I receive from the Career Development Center has undoubtedly given me the confidence to sculpt my experience not just into a transformative summer, but has guided the beginning of my career path invigorating me to get going.

Student Spotlight: Hunter Mitchell-Adams ’18

Hunter Mitchell-Adams ’18 has a wide-variety of interests, and he is fully committed to exploring all of them during his time here at Trinity. This summer, he’s interning with the CT Office of the Arts! In our interview, he tells us why he chose to work there, and shares what his experience has been like thus far.  

Hometown: Stratford, CT
Class year: 2018
Major: Urban Studies
Involvement at school: Captain of the swimming and diving team, president of the Food Recovery Network, arts editor of The Beacon Newsmagazine, and a lifeguard and swimming instructor.

What is your internship?

The CT Office of the Arts initiated a new intern program called the Arts Workforce Initiative, which placed me in Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County. The mission of this nonprofit is to instill the mentality that the idea of upward mobility is possible for our kids participating in the program. They don’t have to be stuck in the downward spiral of being an intercity student. There is possibility of growth. We’re achieving this by introducing Arts Education into their lives.

What are your responsibilities as an intern?

I have administrative duties, I partake in fundraising, teaching, and maintenance of the program, and programming.

What made you want to do an internship in the arts?

I’ve always been interested in the arts. It was a passion of mine before college, but in high school I wasn’t able to pursue it. Now that I’m in college, I have the time to dedicate myself to this passion of mine and I’m so lucky that I have the ability to go to a job every day in a field that I know that I’ve loved for a while.

What has been the highlight of your internship so far?

The second day there, I helped prepare the auditorium for a concert that was signifying the end of the school year term for a group of students. I was able to watch 20 to 25 students in this auditorium playing African Drums, dance and just have an all around great time. All of them were disabled, mentally or physically, and were able to come together through music to show so how something as simple as dancing can make everyone smile. It really stuck with me, and solidified my enjoyment with this internship. I knew I was there for a reason, to make as much of an impact on these kids lives as they already have for me.

You aren’t pursuing an education career, so what made you choose an internship with children?

I’ve been teaching kids how to swim since I was sixteen, and I still do at Trinity. When I was younger, I always looked for someone who could help me move onto a greater path – having an extra voice to help a student grow is extremely important. If I can help even one student find their own path, that’s something I’d be incredibly proud to do.

Student Spotlight: Ryan Vultaggio ’18

Student Spotlight: Ryan Vultaggio ’18

Ryan Vultaggio ’18 is a part of the Catalyst Intern Program, a program that funds the internships of some of Trinity’s most highly motivated students. In our interview, he shares why he wanted to be a catalyst intern, what meaningful work he has been doing at Boston Children’s Hospital this summer, and what he hopes to do after Trinity. 

Hometown: Groton, Massachusetts
Class Year: 2018
Major: Neuroscience
Involvement at school: Trinity College Varsity Baseball Team and member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity

What is your internship?
I am working as a data processor for The Micheli Center for Sports and Injury Prevention at Boston Children’s Hospital. I am specifically working with the 3D-Motion analysis program, where we have pitchers who range in ages from 12 to 25 come and throw balls in front of our cameras. We’re then able to process that data to give us the kinetic and kinematic values necessary for analyzing the throwing motion. With this data, we can evaluate the stresses a pitcher experiences from mechanical break down in their pitching delivery or muscular deficiency impeding their delivery. Once that data is processed, we bring the pitcher back in after about 2 weeks andgo over a full report of their information: this includes a break down of their throwing motion, the stress their body is experiencing, why that stress is bad or good and how they can fix/improve/alter those problems.

What are your responsibilities as an intern?
My jobs as an intern is to assist in the data collection, marking up the patients with our bio-markers, and recording data during the data collection. We only collect data about once or twice a week, so my day-to-day is mostly data processing of the 3D-motion Analysis.


What’s the most rewarding part of your internship?
The best part of my job is getting to work with patients of a variety of ages. Some kids are young and just starting baseball, others are my age or older and have been playing baseball for a number of years. Since I’m a baseball player myself, it’s rewarding to teach kids new things they may have never seen before, or just talking baseball and sharing our experiences. I also find it very rewarding to be given a screen of moving dots and having the ability to connect anatomical body-land marks creating a full 3D-motion capture of a baseball pitcher.

What are your professional goals/career plans?

I hope to get my Masters in Exercise Science after graduation, where I can continue to work with athletes and help them stay on the field and compete at their highest level. The field of preventative medicine is an aspect of medicine that I feel is undervalued and I want to make it something people are more aware of and more willing to do. It would be great to have athletes train and get stronger before they have a knee surgery and hopefully decrease the number of sports related surgeries.

Why did you want to be a catalyst intern? How has this shaped your experience?
I wanted to be a catalyst intern because I created my current position at the Micheli center from scratch, and it did not include getting paid. Trinity’s Catalyst program has allowed me to explore my interest and possible job paths, that I wouldn’t normally be able to entertain.

How to Utilize The Bantam Network

How to Utilize The Bantam Network

Last week, a friend from Trinity visited me here in Rome, Italy, where I am currently studying as a member of Trinity’s Rome Program. Although we went sight-seeing and tried new restaurants together, the majority of my friend’s time was not spent with me, but rather in an office. Indeed, as a first-semester senior who was already offered a job in Rome, she had spent last week enjoying an employer-paid visit to attend a week-long conference. Come July, her job will officially begin.


I asked her how she had gotten so lucky.  She replied simply, “I interned there last summer.”

My friend’s experience reinforced what I had already suspected, that internships are an integral and necessary rite of passage for any successful college student. Yet, from the experience of most millennials, these internships are also often unpaid and, depending on where you are from, could be inconveniently located. Certainly, finding the perfect internship, and later, the perfect job, can be a very daunting task.  Fortunately, Trinity College is an incredible resource. 

Prior to the beginning of my first year, all members of my incoming class were invited to an alumnus/alumna-hosted event, located at the home or club of the alum. There were multiple events hosted throughout that summer, in locations spanning the entire nation, so that as many students as possible could partake. These meet-and-greets were attended by many alumni, current-students, professors and other incoming first years. Notably, these events occur every year, for every Trinity-class. Apart from being an occasion to make new friends or to meet your professors, it also presents an amazing networking opportunity. 

Such was my experience when I attended a reception in the Hamptons, Long Island, at the home of a highly successful entrepreneur whose business had gross sales in excess of 500 million dollars. She was not simply a gracious hostess, but very generously provided me her contact information with an offer to apply for an internship with her Manhattan-based company during the summer of my junior year. 

Without question, the Bantam alumni are a tight-knit group who are dedicated to transitioning the next generation of graduates into the work place.

However, if offers from alumni are not enough, there is also an on-campus Career Development Center. There, you can find leads for internships, seek help creating a resume, schedule a mock job interview or simply seek advice from a career advisor.

Notably, Trinity also offers rare and unique student research opportunities. Since Trinity does not have a science-graduate program, all of its’ research is conducted by its’ undergraduate students. As early as your first year, you can begin to conduct professional research alongside your professors. Many of my friends who are majoring in Engineering and Biology have benefited from these programs. They spend their summers on Trinity’s campus, taking advantage of this exceptional opportunity that so few other institutions of higher learning offer.

As for me, I am currently teaching English to children ranging in ages from 8-12 years at a middle school here in Rome. I obtained this internship through Trinity’s Rome Program, which offers countless other opportunities depending on your level of Italian competency. For instance, if you speak little to no Italian, you can work with an Italian (but English-speaking) chef. Or, if you’re fluent in the native language, you can give tours in museums or conduct research in basilicas alongside church authorities. There are a variety of internships that fall along this spectrum, such as my position at the middle school. It certainly has been one of the most satisfying and transformative experiences of my life, and I do not doubt that it has given me skills and experiences that will help me secure a job in the future.

Although the prospect of searching for internships and jobs can be stressful, it is reassuring to know that Trinity’s wide-ranging alumni connections, offered-programs, and opportunities available in locations such as Hartford and even Rome, guarantees something for everyone. As I prepare to enter my senior year and graduation draws near, I am confident that Trinity will provide me with all of the necessary tools to successfully transition to the work place and that, if I utilize them, the future will be mine for the taking!

Studying Abroad: Affordable European Travel

I’m currently looking at my computer screen and “45 euros” is staring back. That’s the cost of a roundtrip flight to Paris, France, a weekend trip that I am considering planning. How amazing, and also incredibly casual, that I can so easily fly from Rome to Paris as a spur-of-the-moment-decision. And even more amazing? The price.

One of my biggest concerns before deciding whether or not I should study abroad was not so much the “base price,” but more the options, or in other words, the cost of travel to other cities both in and outside of Italy. To experience as much of this once in a lifetime adventure as possible, I would literally need to go the extra mile. Naturally, I questioned whether or not I could afford to do this.

As an undergrad, money is always at a premium. But at the same time, life is a journey of learning, and how foolish to squander such an opportunity to gain new world views. Fortunately, after some research, I learned that travel both in and outside of Italy was not something that my bank account had to fear.

My next trip will be during my week-long October break. After I finish my midterm exams, my friend and I will leave for Berlin, Germany, and later, go to Barcelona, Spain.

Before arriving in Europe, if you had asked me how much this would cost, I would have answered “thousands.” And, flying from the United States, that would probably be true. But flying from Rome to Berlin, to Barcelona, and returning to Rome, even adding the expense of hotel accommodations, roughly cost me a mere 500 euros.

This isn’t to suggest that I buy whatever I want, whenever I want it. It’s about being smart with your money. There are certain sacrifices you can make to stretch your “travel dollar,” or euro. For example, the cost of travel by rail will be discounted if you opt for a slower train.

Another worthwhile strategy is to avoid eating in restaurants when possible. When I traveled for a weekend to Florence, instead of going out to dinner both nights, I purchased groceries and cooked in the kitchen of the apartment I had rented. And on that note, Airbnb’s are almost always the smartest choice! For roughly 40 euros a person, I was able to stay in a beautiful Florentine apartment for two nights with three of my friends. Had I stayed in a hotel, I likely would have spent double that amount and have been robbed of the experience of cooking with my friends.

Another useful and cost-effective tip is to avoid tourist traps. In Rome, you will quickly learn that near the touristy sites, restaurants are very over-priced; yet if you take the short walk to the bottom of the hill where I live, a cappuccino and croissant cost less than two euros.

Certainly, compromise will almost always factor into your travel decisions. I will not deny that an additional 500 euros in my back account could be spent on more expensive presents for my friends back home or even on airfare to more new and exciting places. In fact, I had to decline an invitation to join my friend in Sweden because I wanted to have extra spending money when I go to Berlin. Now, instead of going to Sweden that weekend, I will remain in Rome, where I will try a new restaurant and visit museums.

That’s the nature of compromise—you give some, you get some. I will not regret missing Sweden because I’ll be more thoroughly exploring Rome. Nor will I miss Rome when I’m in, say, Berlin or Barcelona, places I have not yet seen. Let’s face it: regardless of what’s in your bank account, living in Europe for four months is a magical, unbeatable experience, where there are no bad scenarios. Just a lot of amazing choices.

My First Month in Rome

My First Month in Rome

As an introvert who had not yet traveled outside of the USA, I was initially hesitant to study abroad. On campus, I had the security of my closest friends and felt comforted by the familiar. As a great unknown, the idea of living in Rome for four months, despite its promise of adventure, was daunting. Nonetheless, after speaking to staff members from the study away office, I realized a new perspective: this was an experience that would only come once, that could potentially be the best and most transformative of my life.

And so, I took a chance.


As of today, I have lived in Rome for a month. Though only thirty days in, my adventure thus far has taken me beyond Rome to such exotic, exciting and fascinating places as Florence, Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Venice and Ravenna. I have seen Michelangelo’s paintings in the Uffizi, tasted an authentic Neapolitan pizza and gazed upon Mount Vesuvius from the same vantage point as the Pompeiians who perished almost two millennia before. I’ve sailed in a boat around the Amalfi coast where I stopped to swim in grottos, met Franciscan monks on their isle in the Venetian lagoon and toured numerous ancient basilicas.

And best of all is Rome. There, I have toured parts of the Vatican unaccessible to most thanks to my professor, who is employed there as an art conservationist. Among other sites, I have explored catacombs and seen the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. And for the foodies among you, I have been eating the best food of my life!

During this limited stay, Rome has changed who I am as a person. I am more outgoing, confident and willing to try new things. Despite once being the girl in gym class who would do anything to get out of participating and who was hesitant to raise her hand in class, starting next month I intend to enroll in boxing lessons at the nearby gym. I am also excited to report that I have an internship at a local middle school, where I teach multiple English classes per week.

Only a month ago, I arrived to Trinity’s Rome campus without a friend group, travel experience or knowledge of the Italian language. Now, I have many new close friends I never would have met otherwise, have traveled more in these past thirty days than I have in my prior twenty years and, thanks to my immersion in the culture, I have grown entirely comfortable with the Italian language.

Prior to my departure for Rome, I recall staring apprehensively at the countdown to my flight. It occurred to me that maybe I wouldn’t make friends, that the language barrier would overwhelm me or that I would become homesick. I know now that traveling outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s 4,000 miles away, might just be the best decision you’ll ever make.