A view of the Colosseum against blue sky.

European Tour

Beaver business major Katie Work is spending the semester abroad, visiting three countries in 18 weeks. This month, she's in Italy, where the "vines of ancient Rome and modern Rome intertwine."

Editor's Note: Katie Work is spending the semester abroad and will blog about her experience here. You can also follow her on Instagram @runaway.kate

Thursday, March 22


Almost a month ago, I stepped out of an airport into a world of warmth. The sun washed over my skin as many smiles were passed along to me from the strangers walking by. A light breeze carried the familiar, comforting smell of freshly baked pizza. It was in this moment I thought to myself, "Ah, Rome, sweet home. We are going to make great friends."

This I found to be quite true. No time was wasted for me to fall in love with the city. Vines of ancient Rome and modern Rome intertwine to form an immense city that has quite a humbling effect. Standing in the Colosseum and looking out to the paved roads sprinkled with vehicles only hints to the feelings of surrealism the city makes me feel. Along every street, around every corner, in every nook and cranny, it is simple to run into ancient ruins, gardens, churches, cafes, and fountains.

The food is just as wonderful as I could have hoped it would be. I have learned to say “pasta la vista” to my diet, because it is so hard not to have pasta or pizza for dinner. Finish it off with a sweet treat of gelato and I find myself eating Italian favorites almost daily. No worries, I don't forget to start mornings off with a cappuccino and cannoli to really top off the experience.

The Italian language is beautiful and was simple for me to pick up on. Within the first week, I did have a few problems speaking it, though for a reason I did not anticipate. Just months ago, I thought that speaking any of the new languages that I would experience would be quite the task. Oh, no. The real task is switching between the languages. After six weeks of speaking a language, you feel confident. Move to a different country and that confidence is completely wrecked when you are stammering through conversations again. This time with an interesting twist, though. This time your brain thinks it is fun to pull out every language you know except for the language you are trying to speak. Yes, that includes the Arabic that I learned three years ago.

It never fails. Each morning when I am greeted, I always start to say “bonjour,” and panic, realizing that is the wrong language, and awkwardly morph it into “buongiorno” (or as I like to say “bongoooorno.”) Somewhat smooth, right? It definitely is until the afternoon when this morphing task does not carry over since buena sera, or good evening, sounds nothing like bonjour.

While in the evenings I return to my bed exhausted from admiring and eating and speaking, I am incredibly satisfied to have yet another city with more experiences to fill me up. However, in just two short weeks, I will be once again be packing my bags to do it all one more time. This time, it will be in Berlin, Germany.

Until next time,


Monday, January 29

My name is Katie Work. I am a business management and marketing major with a minor in information sciences and technology. I am currently a junior at Penn State Beaver; however, for this semester, I took the opportunity to study in Europe. The program that I am enrolled in is called CIEE Global Institutes.

Through this program, I have a semester that is split into three blocks that last six weeks each. Not only do I have an amazing opportunity to study in a different country, I am able to study in three different countries. Each block, my location changes. For the first block, I am in Paris, France. In the second block, I will be in Rome, Italy. For the third block, I will be in Berlin, Germany.

At the moment, I am halfway through my first block in Paris. I must admit, I was hit with complete shock when I first arrived. It was immediately different than what I was used to. I live in an apartment that is about a 15-minute metro ride to my academic center. This is the first time that I have lived in a city. Nothing like diving head-first into one of the biggest cities in the world!

Paris is one of the most populated cities in Europe, so leaving a small community to go to such a populated area is overwhelming at first. Add in the facts that I can only babble through a conversation with an awkward mixture of French and English – which has earned me a reasonable amount of haughty looks – and that I do not fully understand the metro system and norms, and it equates to almost pure panic.

Once that panic is (mostly) set aside, there is so much beauty that can be found in Paris. The Eiffel Tower is just as breathtaking as could be imagined. Notre Dame is enchanting. Touring the Seine River on a boat is a must. The Louvre is absolutely amazing. The food is wonderful. Especially the bread ... oh my baguettes. If you think that I am eating my weight in bread and pastries, then you are absolutely correct. Every meal is most certainly washed down with a cup of espresso, as well.

Aside from all of the amazing stuff that I get to see and eat in Paris, I do still have to focus on my classes. Those classes that I used to dread on Monday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.? I’ve got that beat. I have two classes – Entrepreneurship in Europe and Global Cinema – that last three hours and run three to four times a week.  Fortunately, each class balances out lectures with activities. For my entrepreneurship class, we got to visit a start-up brewery and complete a beer tasting. For Global Cinema, we get to visit a local cinema to watch and analyze a foreign film.

For my last three weeks in Paris, I cannot wait to continue to explore and learn (and eat) my way through. To follow my adventures more closely, check out my Instagram @runaway.kate

Until next time,