CSUF student embarks on a four month journey through Europe and Africa

Cal State Fullerton student Madeline Giovanniello recently packed up her bags and set off on a four-month adventure to Europe, with Rome as her “home base. Giovanniello has loved to travel ever since she was young, which was a deciding factor in her choice to spend a semester abroad.

“I just really like to travel. I’ve been traveling since I was very young with my family, and I wanted to feel more independent. I didn’t go with any friends or anything, just wanted to do something on my own,” Giovanniello said.

Giovanniello facilitated her study abroad session through an independent study with CSUF, which allowed her to travel without any CSUF students or faculty.

“It’s scary at first, because I’m not a very independent person. I’m pretty dependent on my family because I live so close to home,” Giovanniello said.

She took a fairly regular course load of four classes, and lived in an off-campus apartment with six other housemates.

Giovanniello said she had to take public transportation to school every day, which was a change of pace compared to her life at CSUF where she walks to school from home.  

Giovanniello said she “definitely had more fun than work,” and that each weekend was spent in a new city or country. Some of the places she visited included France, Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Africa and Ireland.

Visiting North Africa was a highlight of Giovanniello’s trip. She was able to immerse herself in the culture and said it was all-around a humbling experience.

In addition to taking in the culture, Giovanniello and her newly made friends also enjoyed visiting local bars in all of the cities they visited.

Aside from the constant sightseeing and exploring, Giovanniello said she enjoyed having the opportunity to simply meet new people. Many of her favorite memories were made in Rome with her housemates.

“I think my most favorite memories are just being in my apartment actually, with just all of the girls that I was with and met. They became my closest friends. When we stayed in some times, we just had movie nights and we all cooked dinner together. It was just a nice feeling. It felt like home, but when you were away from home,” Giovanniello said.

Giovanniello suggests to anyone who is interested in studying abroad to go for it, even if it’s just for the summer or even one month. She said no one regrets going abroad, but they will regret not going and missing out on the opportunity to travel.

“Doing this on my own helped me grow as a person, and anyone would love this experience, just traveling to different countries and trying to adapt to their culture,” said Giovanniello.

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