Bree Palo

IPE Student Advisor

Major: Biomedical Engineering

International Experience: Engineering in Rome, Italy


Why did you choose to study abroad when/where you did?

I knew I wanted to go to Europe and after exploring my options, I decided on Rome because of the elective course I was able to take, Photography in Rome. I wanted an experience that would combine engineering curriculum with my love for art, and this was definitely the right location for that. 


What was one of the most memorable experiences from your time abroad?

One weekend, my roommates and I were able to take a trip to Cinque Terre, a coastal region in Italy. We hiked the trails between the five main cities, swam in the sea, and ate the best calamari I’ve ever had in my life. The views were incredible, especially being able to see the colorful cities high up on the cliffs when we took a ferry ride from one town to the next. 


What was one of the biggest surprises about the location, culture or other aspects of your program?

I was surprised at how well I got to know the city. After a week or so, I didn’t have to walk around constantly looking at my phone for directions, which is very unlike me. Walking 40 minutes across the city from my apartment to the amazing pasta place by the Spanish Steps became second nature to me.


How do the skills and experience you gained abroad set you apart as a professional engineer?

This experience definitely helped me to become more independent. It was my first time traveling overseas, and the first time I’d ever traveled alone. I learned how to adapt quickly and improved my planning skills as well as my on-the-spot problem solving while navigating a foreign country and not speaking the language. 


What advice would you like to give to a student interested in an international experience?

When are you ever going to get another opportunity like this in your life? The chance to live in a foreign country, experience a different culture, and eat authentic food (all while earning credits towards your degree) is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Take advantage of it!


How did your time abroad impact your graduation timeline?

Taking an engineering class over the summer counted towards a prerequisite that I would have had to take the following fall semester, so studying abroad actually put me ahead of schedule. 

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