Freshman Summer Experience (Non-Internship) Memoir
About me: Julia Garbee - CMC ‘22 Economics/Philosophy Dual Major
How I planned my Summer:
With no direction of what major I wanted to pursue at CMC, I felt completely lost when I began to search for my first internship. Scanning through Handshake, I envisioned that I would have that magical “ah-ha” moment and find an opportunity that would be perfect for me. I didn’t.
What did I really want to do? Adventure abroad. The first place that immediately came to mind was Italy. I had taken Italian classes during my freshman year and felt ready to put them to use.
Though my family is from Sicily, Italy and most of my family still lives there now, I had never spent longer than a week there. I looked for volunteering opportunities near where my cousins live (Catania, Sicily) and found an opportunity volunteering with African refugees. My role was to assist hands-on with refugees who were acclimating to life in Sicily and were mostly predominantly homeless. I also fundraised and raised awareness for their organization.
I originally chose to apply to the Appel Fellowship because at the time I thought that was the only program that funded international summer opportunities. I crafted a proposal to live with my cousins and volunteer at the refugee center for a month, adding a writing component to fit the Appel Fellowship objective. I didn’t get the Appel – however, a few days later I got accepted to the Uoroboros Fellowship (my application had been forwarded to other fellowships). This fellowship offered the same amount of money for a life-transforming experience abroad. I immediately accepted.
I spent my first month of summer living with my cousins in Sicily and working with refugees a few days out of the week. Here, I spoke exclusively Italian, learned how to cook Italian food, discovered the style of Sicilian life, and travelled to the volcanic Aeolian islands for a week with my cousins. Ultimately, learning about the refugee’s transition to a new culture while learning about my own roots was truly an eye-opening experience.
Both of the classes I took abroad I strategically planned so that I could get credit from CMC for taking them.
Universita Bocconi, Milan, Italy:
I found out about Bocconi University from friends who studied abroad there the fall of their junior year, however, I didn’t know anyone who had taken a summer course there. The dates of this program, which featured a variety of different courses, were essentially the entire month of July.
I took a course called Economics of the European Union. Class was typically three hours in the morning followed by either class in the afternoon or a visit with a company (we visited the European Commission, Paypal, and Moleskin). This class counted as a level 1 Economics elective. Being one of the few American students in the entire program was shocking at first, but I ended up learning a lot about European culture and making lasting friendships with students from other European countries.
In Milan, I lived at a residence hall that was a thirty-minute tram ride south of Bocconi (which is in the southern part of the city) with a roommate from Portugal who was also in my course. In retrospect, I would have rented an apartment since the residence hall was on the outskirts of the city and didn’t have a kitchen, which made eating expensive.
Living in Milan was an amazing experience – I practiced my Italian, visited a few cool museums and shops, ate lots of delicious Italian food, and went on trips to Lago di Como, Lago di Guarda, and Bergamo.
The London School of Economics, London UK:
LSE offers three sessions of summer school. Some of my friends from CMC did all three sessions, some did two, and I chose to do just the last one.
My friends and I all took the same course (The Wealth (and Poverty) of Nations: Historical Economic Divergence across the Globe). This course counted as general elective credit. As it was only a few days of the week and only qualitative, it was certainly less intense than my class in Milan.
My friends and I stayed together in a residence hall called High Holborn. It was centrally located in London - a 10 minute walk to both class and the Thames River. Unlike Bocconi, the majority of students that enrolled in summer courses were American and most students chose to stay in residence halls.
Rest of Summer:
With a few weeks left until my sophomore fall started, I decided to backpack through Southeast Asia with a few of my friends from CMC. We explored Bangkok and Koh Samui in Thailand and then went to Hanoi, Vietnam before returning back to school.