The American University of Nigeria (AUN) is in partnership with many universities outside Nigeria. This allows students to spend some semesters abroad. Accounting Major, Mary Katambi, spent the Spring Semester at John Cabot University, Italy. Here is an excerpt from our conversation with her:
I went with my AUN school guardian. I have never traveled abroad so this was very huge for me. She guided me on how to interact with others and to ask if I need help. So the school was there for me to guide me. Cabot University was an amazing school. I made so many friends. My best friend is Precious, a Nigerian living in Italy with her parents. She also schools at John Cabot University. I met Sivan, my friend and we still communicate today and so many others I met during the study abroad experience. I was able to travel with friends within Italy before the pandemic, we traveled to Pantheon, Colosseum ate Colosseum pizza. It was just the best. Italian Gelato, that is ice cream, it is so good. We went to Vatican city, on my first day, I had communion there. I went to the Catholic Church too and I saw the pope. I saw him through the window so it was a very huge thing for me.
I traveled for a weekend with a friend before the pandemic, we traveled to Florence. We took a train to Florence it was about a 3-hour journey. We went to the Gucci museum, we got a free ticket as students because I was holding a school water bottle. We also went to Miscau restaurant.
When the pandemic started, it was unexpected. Some of my friends who traveled for the spring holiday, could not come back because Italy was in total lockdown and there was no way for them to come back to school so they had to go back to their country. If I had traveled, I would have been sent back to Nigeria but I didn't travel. I wanted to travel but it didn't happen so I think that was God's plan for me I guess.
My most cherished experience in the school was the interaction between students and the professors. When I went I was a very shy person but then you must talk in the classroom. It is compulsory. You must interact with classmates. Most of my classes were 16-20 people sometimes maybe 21 with the professor. You have to read an article the professor gives you before coming to class because if you don't talk that day you get a 0 for participation so it made me read more and interact with my classmates because we were divided into groups, 3 or 4 students talk about the topic before coming and then a general section to talk about it.
I lived in Scali B and my Residence Assistant was a man. In AUN boys and girls don't live in the same building but over there my neighbor was a boy and the opposite one was a boy also. My roommate is German. She was so amazing, she taught me how to cook German food and that was a great experience for me. She told me a lot about her family, her school in the USA and other things like that. We usually have students' dinners, we went to the beach, we just enjoyed and spent time with friends.
English is not my first language, I find it difficult. I took English 101, it was very difficult for me because I have to write papers based on 3 sections, fiction, drama, and poetry. It was very difficult to understand for me but my friends, especially Precious were there for me to proofread my papers and other random people in the school cafeteria. If you just see a student and say can you help me read my paper and give me feedback? They always agree to do that so that was a lovely thing for me and also there was a time I traveled during the summer to have a weekend holiday, my phone battery died, which was a big challenge for me because I always use my Google map for directions. I didn't know how to find my way. I had no phone charger with me and I was just moving on the train and after I got off, I took a metro bus but I had no idea what direction it was going. It’s very weird in Italian culture to ask people around because based on what my friend told me if you ask anyone, can you tell me about this place they will think you are a beggar. They think you want to ask them for money so they don't really support you. Unlike back home in Nigeria. You can just ask a man selling yams where is the supermarket but over there I learned to be independent in making decisions. That is doing things by myself, on my own. I've learned how to manage my money properly. When I was in AUN when my allowance comes in, I just spend it but now I have to think before buying things or look at the benefit. What do I need it for, is it necessary? I also learned how to interact with people, love people around me.
I love AUN’s surroundings, it's so clean and most especially the flowers because whenever I'm angry and see the flowers, it makes me so happy. Climate change is real and we have to be part of it and AUN has been impacting positively on the environment. There are so many trees around, the environment is so clean, I really love this part and my Professor Mrs. Abiodun, she had been giving me advice before she traveled, she was guiding me through registration for my courses and making sure I am on the right track. So I don't have problems during my graduation. She is a very nice person.
Here in AUN, I like the library. Everywhere is so beautiful for me. They give you a conducive environment to learn without any distraction. The teaching method in John Cabot and AUN is similar. Coming to AUN has improved my writing and speaking skills and also how to interact with people. AUN is a very diverse university because you meet students coming from different backgrounds and cultures. So you interact and learn about them. So I did not find it difficult to interact with people when I got to John Cabot University.
Mary is now back in Nigeria at the AUN campus preparing for graduation this semester.
Reported by Rebecca Ikponwonba