top of page

Off to Study Abroad!


Things are starting to wind down at Penn State this semester and finals week is dreadfully coming near.  The good news is that this means I am closer to studying abroad than ever!

Before I get into too much detail, I want to give you all some background information about me.  My name is Mike McHugh and I am a junior in the Smeal College of Business.  I am majoring in finance and minoring in Italian and International Business.  I recently started and am now Co-President of a club called Adaptive Outreach, play Wheelchair Basketball, and am actively involved with THON as a member of the Finance Committee.  Outside of Penn State, I am on a ski team for people with disabilities and coach a travel baseball team.

One of my true passions is traveling.  I have been all over the United States (including Hawaii), to Italy (Rome, Florence, Ravenna, and Venice), Australia (Sydney & Melbourne), and Hong Kong.  My favorite country was Italy, not just because my mother’s side of the family is Italian, but because of all the beautiful architecture and rich culture the country has to offer.

As you have probably figured out by now, I am heading to Italy.  Rome to be more exact.  I cannot wait to get over there as I have not been there since I was 12.  Rome is a great city with amazing people and famous landmarks around nearly every corner!

One of the things I am most looking forward to is improving my Italian language skills.  I have been taking Italian since the seventh grade and absolutely love the language.  This fall, I am taking a course entitled “Fluency in Italian” and have learned a great deal about the intricacies of the language.  I can’t wait to apply it in real life situations on a daily basis.

One of the great things that IES Abroad offers is a contract called “Italiano a casa” which means “Italian in the house”.  While it is completely optional, I am going to sign this contract and agree to only speak Italian to my roommates within our apartment.  I believe this is the best way to master a new language.  Also, I will be rooming with two other American students and one Italian student called an ISC.  Our ISC will help us truly immerse ourselves within the Italian culture and show us some places off the beaten path.  This is exactly what I want to accomplish – I do not want to be a tourist, I want to be a resident of Italy!

While I am abroad, I intend to travel across Europe and visit as many amazing places as possible.  My current list of places I definitely want to go to are Dublin, London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Belgium, Venice, Milan, Sicily, Naples, Pisa, and the Amalfi Coast.

I would like to leave you all with a quote by John Hope Franklin – “We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.”

Note: This post was originally published on December 7, 2010 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe” which chronicled my study abroad experience.  

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page