COLA Connections Newsletter: Fall 2017

Spending the Summer at RIT Kosovo

Each summer, many students at RIT take the opportunity to study abroad. Alessandra Santarosa, a third year Political Science major, went to RIT’s Kosovo campus to experience life in another country while working towards some of her degree requirements.

How do you feel studying abroad has enhanced your education?

Studying abroad helped enhance my education because it gave me a more hands-on approach to what I study. As a Political Science major, most of what you learn about comes from books, and many of those are written by individuals who were involved in things such as state building and peacekeeping. While studying at RIT Kosovo, I was being taught by individuals who were involved in the conflict and was also alongside those whom were directly affected by the conflict. Seeing things first hand gave me a better perspective of what I have been learning about, as well as the various things I can do with my degree.

What was your favorite part of your trip?

Honestly, it is very hard to pinpoint one specific favorite part, but if I had to choose, I would pick our regional trip we took before the Summer Program began. I traveled to Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Macedonia. I never imagined myself being in the city center of Sarajevo, or even in Belgrade. I met individuals who had experienced war, and because of that had very different views on organizations such as the United Nations. It was really eye opening to see the effects of the international community on these conflicted areas in the former Yugoslavia. I remember Sarajevo the most because it was so interesting to me that there was all this life in a city that still had bullet holes in the buildings.

How do you feel your cultural setting affected the classes you were taking?

The cultural setting in Kosovo was different, but at the same time there were many things that seemed to be similar. I was able to learn a lot about the local culture and their local issues by being in classes with students from Kosovo. From them, I learned what the effects of the United States were on their country, and how much different life could be for someone who was the same age as me. I think we all taught each other something about cultural differences and how we can work together for a better future both in the United States, Kosovo, and internationally.

How does the RIT experience in Kosovo compare to here in Rochester?

RIT Kosovo is an extremely small campus compared to RIT in Rochester. I would say it is similar in that you are right outside of a city, so you can go downtown if you please, or you could just hang out on campus. You can walk onto campus and see everyone you know, or no one at all. Kosovo was definitely smaller, but I still had all the same benefits I get on RIT’s campus, such as great professors who take the time to talk to you and help, lots of computers, and great people to be around. Although RIT Main doesn’t have our campus puppy, “Auk”, whom became our little mascot this summer. We should work on that.

How does it feel to be back in the US?

Being back in the US is different, but being abroad before through two student exchanges during high school (France and Germany) helped me be able to adjust. As a third-year student, you get kind of used to being in different places and making wherever you currently are “home.” You sometimes forget how much is going on in the US, so being back was a little overwhelming at first, especially being able to completely understand a conversation happening next to you, as it is in your own language. Being back makes me want to explore my own country more, and other parts of the world. Who knows? You might be asking me the same questions next summer when I come back from somewhere new!