Natalie (Webb '17) Zeltman

B.S. in Entrepreneurship, B.S. in Biblical and Religious Studies

Why did you choose to study abroad?
I knew that in my whole life I would never have the opportunity to live abroad so easily, with so much support, and such little commitment. I got to take a trip to Israel as a high school graduation gift from my parents and it was one of the most fantastic experiences of my life. Since then I’ve always wanted to travel to as many places as I could so that I could have the same sensation of adventure, and Italy gave that to me.

How did you choose the country you went to?
The first thing I did to narrow down where I wanted to go seems pretty obvious. I wanted to go somewhere that had a mild winter. Italy was a great option because it was in Europe so I could easily travel to other countries. It was a great option for my major, and all the classes were taught in English!

What was a unique experience for your while abroad?
Toward the end of my time in Florence, Italy, I was visiting one of the many historical churches in the area. I had been told of this secret little pharmacy that the nuns upkeep, and I wanted to check it out. It was a difficult place to find though, and after much searching I couldn’t locate it. I asked one of the police officers if she knew where this place was, but I asked her in Italian. Apparently my accent had gotten decent enough to the point where she thought I actually spoke Italian (usually Italians can spot an American from a mile away), and she gave me directions, in Italian. This was the first time a local Italian had mistaken my linguistic abilities and had given me a full Italian answer. I was so excited all I did was smile and nod and say “Grazie” when she finished. I didn’t understand a word of her instructions, and I never found the pharmacy, but I was so happy that she thought I could speak Italian it didn’t matter.

How did your international experience change you?
I’m braver. Not to say I wasn’t an adventurous person before Italy, but Italy taught me to be brave on my own in a country where I couldn’t speak the language. I took weekend trips by myself, flew around Europe by myself, went on day adventures by myself, and I had issues and confusion that I had to resolve by myself. After dealing with that, ALL in Italian, coming home and figuring something out in my native tongue is no big deal. I’m more at ease in my own skin, I’m more confident, but most importantly I know how to handle setbacks. I can deal with problems, I can handle sucker punches to my weekend trip to Capri, and I can still have fun in spite of them. Most of the time I had more fun because of them.

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