Every year, AUR welcomes a host of U.S. students who arrive at AUR’s beautiful Rome campus to experience Italian culture and enrich their studies through a study abroad experience. At the same time, many of AUR's full-time resident students also travel the world for a semester or two outside Rome through AUR's own study abroad program, AURA.

AUR actively encourages all of its students to travel, to meet new people and experience new cultures, and to benefit academically from taking classes with other universities and other students. The AURA program at AUR has been set up so that our students can do all of this at no extra tuition cost - AUR students can enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time student at institutions across the world and not pay anything extra.

A great example of how this system works is AUR's exchange with Emory University in Atlanta, USA, one of the most prestigious universities in America, where two of AUR's juniors, Elena Santandrea and Elianne Dewulf, are currently enjoying an amazing semester abroad. Recently, we had the opportunity to ask them how things were going.

Q.Could you start by simply introducing yourselves - tell us a bit about who you are and where you come from?

ES. Hello! My name is Elena Santandrea, I was born and raised in Italy, hence my first language is Italian. I am currently a second year BBA student (Bachelor in Business Administration) and I plan on graduating at the end of the Spring semester 2023.

EW. Hi, I'm Elianne Dewulf! I am originally from Belgium and followed middle and secondary school in the UK. My majors are Fine Arts and Art History with an expected graduation for 2023.

Q.Tell us about Emory! How has it been so far?

ES. So far, my experience at Emory has been nothing but amazing. Unfortunately, the first month of classes was online due to the COVID19 situation, which slowed our assimilation into American culture - but at the same time, it gave us the opportunity to settle in our apartment and explore the campus without having the stress of running from one class to another. Now that in-person classes are finally back, we're on campus and in class, which will certainly allow us to connect with many other students - we're really looking forward to getting to know everyone properly.

EW. Elena's right; right before the start of the semester we were informed that the first month would be online, and obviously this news was a disappointment as it would obviously limit our contact with the Emory life and culture. Fortunately, however, this situation has actually helped me to connect with other study abroad students from around the world. We've already experienced several nice activities together, such as attending an NBA game, going out locally, and even visiting Miami. As the days go on, integration becomes better and better.

Q.How did you find out about the Emory exchange program at AUR?

EW. I first became aware of this honors program after my academic results qualified me for the AUR Dean’s List. We were told about the exchange as a result of that. I was a little wary of the idea initially, as the Emory program is really business-focused, but all of my AUR professors were really positive, virtually pushing me to apply! They were right, as an art student, this exchange program introduces me to a new discipline that is exciting and challenging. This experience is allowing me to push myself and enlarge the scope of my academic knowledge. The rich resources available at Emory also make this an excellent opportunity.

AUR prepared me for my Emory exchange through its diverse, connected, and active community.

Q.How are you finding the classes, is it very different to what you're used to?

ES. The professors are extremely qualified with very interesting backgrounds, the lectures are very interactive and we are given the opportunity to interact with students from all over the world. The advantages of these programs are several, first of all, the opportunity to compare and get to know many students from all over the world, especially other exchange students.
I believe that joining the American system is an advantage, especially for European students or those who have never experienced real American college life. Obviously, the first advantage is the very high level of education here, Emory is ranked 21st in the United States, but beyond that, I have discovered that a semester abroad is a great chance for you to improve not only as a student but as a person as well. Finally, it doesn't hurt that the whole experience will look amazing on your resume!

Q.Emory University is very highly regarded, did you feel prepared for the academic rigor?

EW. AUR prepared me for my Emory exchange through it’s diverse, connected and active community. Additionally, taking classes outside my major helped me face the business classes. 

ES. Honestly? Being a student at AUR is the perfect preparation for being a student at Emory, or anywhere else! Besides the academic knowledge I have gained at AUR, the diverse environment of our university constantly helps me to feel confident and comfortable in adapting to any new environment, even this new school. AUR is all about being prepared to experience new situations and new dynamics with ease and coming from AUR's small classes, I feel assured enough of my opinions to openly enter new classroom discussions and to think creatively in response to other viewpoints. 

Q.What advice would you give to other students thinking bout undertaking an AUR study abroad experience?

ES. If I were to give advice to another student about this experience I would definitely recommend applying as soon as they know they are eligible to be a candidate. There is a lot of information and a lot of paperwork so do everything ahead of time and avoid the extra stress of deadlines. Otherwise, just go for it (and remember what a bargain you're getting - Emory is almost triple the price of AUR!).

I was thrilled to discover AUR

EW. If you have the chance, you've got to take it! Academically, it's outstanding. But for anyone who wishes to experience a completely different culture than their own, who wants to observe different ways of interacting, a new environment, new sports (with crazy mascots and merchandise!), this is the perfect enriching experience.

Q.Finally, are you missing AUR and what brought you here in the first place?

ES. Yes, I miss AUR - the garden, the friends, the professors... while I love this experience, I can't wait to see you all again! There were several reasons I originally chose to study at AUR; I was an exchange student in the US during high school and when I came back to Italy I realized that I wanted to keep studying in English but I really wanted to live in Italy. I was thrilled to discover AUR, which fulfilled both desires. I am so happy to have made that decision since I have now realized what an amazing community it is that I'm part of.

EW. Of course I miss AUR, and Rome! Much the same as Elena, AUR fulfilled my university selection criteria perfectly. I wanted to live in Rome and I wanted a university that encouraged interdisciplinarity, it's such an essential element for my future career. AUR was the perfect choice.