Hitting textbooks in Tuscany
EHS grads back from three months of study in Italy
For most, college offers an opportunity to discover new worlds.
For Eudora High School graduates Sarah Abel and Kendall Hudson a semester abroad in Italy helped them discover the old world.
The two Kansas University students spent a semester in Paderno del Grappa, a small village near the historic city of Florence in Italy's Tuscany.
Abel said she first heard about the opportunity in an accounting class.
"In my first accounting class the professor had a lot to do with the Italy program so he showed us a little video about it and stuff, and I just thought it was a really good opportunity and a fun experience, so I decided to do it," Abel said.
The trip came in the fall of Abel's sophomore year and gave her an opportunity to further her accounting and finance majors.
"Preparing for it, there were lot of forms to fill out and getting your visa and passport," Abel said. "I didn't try to learn the language or anything really. I was busy with other stuff. I could have done that better."
The draw of fulfilling graduation requirements and an English-friendly travel experience appealed to Hudson.
She also had a flurry of things to do before leaving.
"It was kind of stressful as far as getting your passport and everything ready, getting ready to leave your family and friends for three months," Hudson said. "Packing for three months was very stressful."
Once packed, the trip began smoothly, Hudson said.
"The ride over was fine. We slept most of the time," Hudson said.
Once in Europe, the girls met small setbacks.
Abel lost luggage in Venice. Hudson missed a flight in Germany and had to wait for a few hours.
Despite the small misadventures during travel, each experienced Europe and their host city Paderno.
"It's a really small town -- teeny tiny," Abel said.
Although the students in the KU study abroad program shared the campus with an Italian private school, the students found plenty of time to spend with other travelers.
The first night a group of more than 100 students went to a local restaurant less than a block away, Abel said.
"It wasn't that bad because we were totally surrounded by American people," Abel said. "We shared the campus and town with Italians.
"There were so many of us who were American. It was more fun because we were experiencing the thing together."
The students took their classes in segments interspersed with longer breaks, with teachers who stressed travel time, Hudson said.
"The school was easy because they didn't have a lot of distraction unless you have weekends to travel," Hudson said. "It was pretty easy to get all your stuff done and stay up with classes."
In the first few weekends Abel and Hudson explored Italy.
"Florence was really beautiful," Hudson said. "We spent most of the time walking around, going to museums and just trying to take it all in."
Abel said she enjoyed San Marcos square in Venice, but "the pigeons were really annoying."
To Hudson, a highlight was Paris.
"We were there in May. The weather was perfect and the flowers were all blooming and the grass was bright green," Hudson said.
During their journeys, Abel would randomly run into other students.
"We'd run into a lot of people and there were some cases when they're people you'd stayed with in a hostel in one city and you'd run into them in the next city you were traveling to," Abel said. "There were some who were even a part of our program who were just traveling on their own.
"It was neat. It's just such a small world."