Nate Reichard is a member of the UGA Track & Field team. He is studying Management Information Systems and Accounting.
This past summer, I was very fortunate to be part of UGA’s study abroad program located in Verona, Italy. The trip started with us flying into Rome where we stayed for several days and were able to visit many of the city’s major sites. After leaving Rome, we traveled north to the city of Florence where we spent another several days touring and taking in the local culture. We then packed up and traveled once more to the city of Verona, where we would stay for the next 4 weeks taking classes and exploring the city and surrounding areas. The program was organized through the School of Public and International Affairs. While in Verona, I took two classes which were taught by UGA professors who accompanied us on the trip. Both classes had to do with foreign politics and legislative systems and how they compared to our system here in the United States. As an Accounting and MIS major, I found the courses allowed me to gain an added perspective on how businesses operate and interact with governing bodies outside of the United States.
On weekends where there were no classes, we were given the opportunity to travel independently. On our first free weekend, a group of us traveled to Munich where we biked through the English Garden, toured BMW headquarters, and visited the Dachau concentration camp, among many other things. On the second weekend, we stayed in Italy and took a daytrip to Venice. With our final opportunity to travel, we flew into Spain and stayed in Madrid for the weekend. Some of my favorite moments from the program came from these independent travel opportunities. Putting these trips together and having to coordinate how we would get there, where we would stay, and what we would do, was a unique challenge which I found really helped me strengthen my planning and organizational skills. Aside from all the travel, getting to settle down in Verona for a month was also quite the experience. While much of our time on the trip was structured and consisted of visiting busy museums and Basilicas, getting to take free time to simply wonder around the city, talk to locals, and try local cuisine, really allowed me to gain a sense of Italian life away from what you observe in the larger more touristy cities. After our four weeks were up and classes had concluded, we took a 12-hour bus ride from the northern city of Verona all the way down to the southern city of Sorrento. While in Sorrento, we took daytrips to many of the nearby sites including Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and Capri. One of my favorite parts of traveling through Italy was being able to visit so many different cities and getting to observe their regional differences. Our trip concluded with us traveling back to Rome where shortly after we caught a flight back to Atlanta.
At orientation my freshman year, I remember sitting through a study abroad presentation and immediately dismissing the idea of ever taking part in one. As an athlete I neverthought I would have the time or opportunity to do such. Boy, am I glad that I was wrong. I do not know if I will ever be given another opportunity to visit three separate countries and dozens of foreign cities all at once as I have this past summer and I am grateful to UGA and The Georgia Way for helping make it possible. This trip has become one of the highlights of my collegiate life and will probably remain so until I graduate. The friends, experiences, and knowledge I took away from it will stick with me not only for the rest of my time here at UGA but for the rest of my life. I am not quite sure what it was that ultimately convinced me to take the trip, but I can say to any fellow student athletes still on the fence, if an opportunity to study abroad presents itself, the risk is well worth the reward.