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Study Abroad

Grant Topjon

Hometown:  Olathe, Kansas                  

Where I studied abroad: Rome, Italy

Major: Double major in Political Science and Philosophy with an additional focus in Italian

Favorite Foreign Food:  Mozzarella di Bufala

Favorite city/site visited while abroad: Trevi nel Lazio, Italy. A medieval hill town an hour and a half east of Rome. It is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen and I don’t expect to see anything like it ever again.

My next trip is going to be to: Manchester, England

Advice for future study abroad students: I strongly encourage young people to study abroad for the sole reason of seeing other parts of the world. The experiences I have had and the things I have seen have changed my point of view on the world. I see the world in a clearer light and I now more than ever recognize the importance of helping others and changing the world. A study abroad experience makes you challenge your views and it is something truly unforgettable.


My study abroad experience has been life changing. The most important thing that needs to be mentioned is the coursework that I have completed up to this point. I really enjoy all of my classes, but two in particular have stood out to me. One of these is my course in Italian Politics and Society. In this class, I have learned not only how politics are dealt with in Italy, but a brief history of Italy and a firsthand insight as to how the Italian society truly is. For me, it is very interesting to juxtapose the society and politics of my home country, the United States, to Italy. I’m always fascinated by the lectures and guest speakers the professor presents to us. The other class that I’ve grown to love is my course in Philosophy. I think that studying philosophy in Italy has been very interesting because not only does it make me open up my mind when I walk around the city and visit other places, but also in the classroom I am forced to think critically and challenge my own opinions. The readings of Plato and Aristotle have made me think a lot about my life and have helped me understand the world better.

Traveling has had a very high priority on the to-do list and rightly so. When one lives in a country with such easy access to so many different cultures, it’s hard to resist the temptation to venture out and explore. I’ve been primarily staying in Italy because I came to Italy for the primary reason of learning Italian. I had taken four Italian courses at Kansas State under the direction of Professor Renner and Nussmeier before arriving in Italy and they truly paid dividends. My Study Abroad experience started by staying with a very good friend of mine that lives in right outside of Rome in the city of Fiumicino. While I was sojourning with him and his family the week before the start of classes we spoke only in Italian for an entire week which made me feel comfortable with the language and help me become acclimated to my new lifestyle. At this point I’ve visited so many cities, big and small, it’s hard to even keep count. One city that really stood out to me was Trevi nel Lazio, a small hill town east of Rome that I visited in my first week upon arriving in Italy. The food that I ate and the things that I did truly made the experience. From hiking a mountain to playing cards in a small medieval kitchen with my new friends, I was having the time of life. I also had the great opportunity of visiting the country of Ireland to see extended family that I had never met before. I played golf and visited the beautiful city of Dublin and felt right at home even though I was thousands of miles away.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the culinary and cultural aspects of my time in Italy. As many know, Italy is famous for its exquisite cuisine. The wide range of foods and beverages that I eat and drink every day have enhanced my experience immensely. Some of my favorite foods include mozzarella di bufala, guanciale, pancetta, raschera, all types of pizza, cinghiale, porchetta, and bruschetta (it’s pronounced brew-skett-ah by the way, not brew-shet-ah), to name a few. I have also grown to love coffee an immense amount here. It has been a staple to go to my favorite bar and get “un caffè e un cornetto” (an espresso and a croissant) every morning. The coffee is treated very seriously here and it’s very different from the United States. Culturally, I can say that while the food is a very important thing in Italy, for me the biggest difference is in the way they carry out their day. Italians, and I’ve noticed Europeans in general, are more open to try new things which is something I think us Americans can learn from. They also take their time and don’t ever rush anything, which of course makes the food and the culture that much better. They go about their days at their leisure, enjoying life’s little pleasures. I hope I continue to do the same for not only the rest of my time in Italy, but also when I return to the United States and for the rest of my life.

Living in another country all by myself has been an incredible experience and I encourage everyone to at least look into it. It gives you a different perspective on the world and gives you the opportunity to try new things you would have never thought you would end up doing. I’ve done things I would have never done previously and have truly become a better person. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, from my parents to my friends to all the people in the Study Abroad Office. Oh, and buon viaggio! 



A picture of me enjoying an aperitivo in Piazza IV Novembre with friends. 



A picture taken of me with the Umbrian countryside in the background. This photo was taken in Orvieto, Italy.



A picture taken of me in Wicklow, Ireland at Wicklow Golf Club. In Wicklow, I enjoyed playing golf with my extended family and the views were incredible. 


Tres Amigos

A picture taken with me and two of my Roman friends in the city of Ariccia, Italy. This was taken on All Saints Day, November 1st.


“My experience abroad has changed me in ways I could have never imagined. I’ve seen so many different parts of the world and so many different cultures. I’ve been given various opportunities to pursue my goals and follow my dreams in and out of the classroom and because of these experiences, I will never see the world in the same way again."