Catherine Avery '20, a dental hygiene major who spent the summer studying at the University of New Haven's campus in Prato, Italy, discovered a community with a passion for caring for patients – and for enjoying life.
September 4, 2019
During my time studying abroad this summer, I learned so much about myself and about the dental profession in Italy. I was very nervous while getting ready for this trip to the University's Tuscany Campus, since I have never been out of the country.
After coming together as a class and bonding, I felt comfortable adjusting to the Italian culture and setting. I have learned that I can do things on my own and that traveling and learning about other communities around the world will shape me into a better person. I have also become more confident and assertive in my decision making and problem-solving skills.
The Prato community welcomed us with open arms. I was glad that they were understanding, since we didn't speak much Italian, and they helped us communicate and interact.
I noticed Italians are conservative in their clothing choices. They don't show a lot of skin, and they cover their shoulders when in a restaurant or in church. This made me aware of how I was dressing, and I made sure I conformed to their values.
"I think the most impactful part of this trip was seeing how different the Italian community is. They take in the day with such passion and positivity."Catherine Avery '20
I was surprised to learn that dental care in Italy is very similar to ours in the United States, with regard to the tools and protocols used in treatment. I think the professionals we met in Italy were surprised to learn this too, because when they asked us questions about different treatments, they seemed to be under the impression that our treatments were very complicated. After talking with them, they were surprised that we do most of our treatments the exact same way.
I think the most impactful part of this trip was seeing how different the Italian community is. They take in the day with such passion and positivity. I saw this in the restaurants we went to – everyone was so happy to be there – and in the dental offices everyone was very positive and passionate about caring for their patients.
I think in the U.S., people seem to always be rushing to get places and to get things done, and in Italy there was less stress in the community. This made me realize I need to relax, stop to see the world around me, and take everything in. I also realized there's so much to experience in the world that is different from what I am used to in the U.S. I can't wait to travel more and experience it.
I want to incorporate the positivity and passion I saw in the Italian community into my daily life and to be a better person. I was nervous to be in a new community in which I did not speak the language, but I realized the Italian community was very welcoming and they did not judge us.
I will definitely be traveling more and expanding my horizons by seeing the world in a different perspective. I value this experience of studying abroad greatly, and I will continue to share and cherish the memories I have from this trip.