Study Abroad Q&A: Riley Kong Experiences Northern Italy

Graphic of a plane holding a briefcase

Riley Kong studied in Northern Italy for a semester!

Management information systems student Riley Kong '24, spent the spring 2022 semester in Northern Italy. Studying abroad allowed him to become friends with a plethora of international students and travel across Europe.

Q: Why did you choose to study abroad in this location?

Riley: I chose to study abroad in this location because I wanted to travel all around Europe. Milan seemed like a good home base that allowed me to travel everywhere relatively easily and cheaply. I also had family here which made adjusting to this new environment much easier.

Q: What's your favorite thing about this location?

Riley: My favorite thing about this location was the ease of transportation and the number of activities here.

Q: Who did you meet in your location that significantly impacted you during your time abroad? (ex. professor, friend, loved one)

Riley: I met many new international friends here who had various cultural backgrounds that were fascinating to learn about. Honestly, I’ve made more friends that are not Italian than are.

Q: What's something you learned about this location that you didn't know beforehand?

Riley: Something that you should know about this location is that when you eat, you expect to spend a few hours (usually a minimum of 2 hours) and people are not always timely. Also, smoking is common, so beware of that if it's something that bothers you.

Q: If someone were to travel to the location(s) you studied abroad, what is one thing/activity/event they must experience?

Riley: If someone were to study abroad here, something you should experience is to join Erasmus and their events. Erasmus is essentially a European study abroad organization and you can participate in their events mostly for free. You can also join then and get the Erasmus card which is 10 euros and it comes with many benefits such as a discount on flights with Ryan Air (but for some reason didn’t work with mine) and other activities (like in clubs) around the city and possibly other European countries. I had an Erasmus card but my friend didn’t and they still give him the discount on most events we went to.

Q: What advice do you have for students who want to study abroad?


-          Try to learn their language and culture. It will make adapting and communicating much easier.

-          Pack a lot less than you think you need. You will probably end up wearing the same few outfits again and/or end up buying some clothes to match the style here.

-          Try to be open-minded about everything you enter and try to meet as many people as you can, especially in the beginning.

-          You may need to take initiative or go out of your way to make friends and stay in contact with them.

-          Don’t plan trips with a large group of people unless you all have similar interests. It will become hectic since some people may want to see other places while on the trip. The optimal number of people would be about 2 to 5 people.

Q: What will you take back with you to RIT from your experience?

Riley: I am coming back to RIT with many interesting stories and am much more open to new experiences. Academically, I also appreciate the way we are taught much more in Italy. However, you may not be given any handouts since you are responsible for staying on top of your own education.

Q: Did studying abroad widen your worldview?

Riley: Yes, it certainly did. Studying abroad showed me just how little we really know about the world and other cultures. Many people I’ve met here know more about the US than we know about their country. Everyone has different cultural backgrounds so respect everyone even if it may seem weird to you.

Q: Did studying abroad give you a new perspective on your major?

Riley: Since the classes I took were different from my major, I can’t quite say if it changed the way I think about my major.