2011 / 2012 Academic Year Recipients
Apicius International School of Hospitality - Fall 2011
My experience in Florence is one I feel very lucky to have. Without the knowledge of the program, some pre-planning, and the assistance of the scholarship committee, I would not have had the chance to see other areas of the world that I was able to see during this experience.
I think it very important for those from America or any other country to explore outside of their country and state. We must find the differences and similarities, along with the different customs and traditions that are outside our scope. I see the importance of that, especially since I am graduating college in a few months. Seeing these different cultures and areas of this world, I can understand my own country more, as well as the rest of the world and the differences and similarities. Being in Prague, I was closer than I could have ever imagined to something called a repressed socialist society. Now, the knowledge and understanding of some parts of history and their effects will be with me forever. I am truly grateful for getting the opportunity to learn about these struggles and events in history and currently.
Studying abroad has almost no room to be a “bad” experience. Whatever comes your way while studying abroad, the benefits will continue to accumulate after returning home; at least that is my belief. The challenge is worth it. Most of all, you are able to take great memories with you, as well as a sense of accomplishment.
It is exciting to notice all of the differences, from small to big. The timing is different on resolving attention required matters, the vacations are longer, the architecture, the streets being smaller, and the cost of an international flight. All of these differences play into my broader understanding of how the world works.
Even the way the professors teach is different; and that is a unique opportunity. I believe that living in Italy was unique in many ways; from the way I did grocery shopping, spent my weekends, collaborated with peers, and simply how I spoke with people. All of these things are unique to us in the United States, but perhaps not to the millions of people that are from Italy. That is another thing that is gained, a new way of using empathy. I tried to open my mind, and try to see how different isn’t really different to those who live in my host country. That is a great experience, which I can continue to learn from upon reflection.
Apicius International School of Hospitality - Fall 2011
Deciding to apply to the Baking and Pastry Certificate Program at Apicius in Florence, Italy was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I learned so much about baking and pastry techniques and met many amazing people in the process. The Baking and Pastry Certificate program at Apicius was absolutely perfect and the program completely surpassed my expectations. I was taught by incredible professors who were extremely passionate about their work and the progress of their students. The program greatly enhanced my baking skills and made me more comfortable in the kitchen. The wide variety of classes and seminars allowed me to learn many different baking skills and recipes. I also learned a lot about the history of Italy and the progression of the Italian cuisine.
My classes typically were focused on Italian desserts, but I learned many basic cooking skills and many international recipes as well. One of my favorite days was when we studied the history of tea time in my Cookies and Petit Fours class. During that class we taught about many international tea time desserts, and we made many international tea time recipes such as Macaroons, scones and shortbread cookies. The scholarship I was awarded by the sponsors helped me finance this incredible program, and I will be ever-thankful. The techniques and skills I learned while in baking school will greatly benefit me in the future. Additionally, the relationships I built with my peers and professors were incredible. I met so many inspirational individuals who all positively influenced me during my semester abroad. I will remember this experience forever, and I am so thankful I was able to attend the program. Thank you so much for your contribution, you really did make such a difference.
Florence University of the Arts - Fall 2011
As my semester of studying abroad has concluded, I am beginning to reflect on the experiences had and the things learned. As an art student, the dream of studying in Florence, Italy is one I have held for some time. Upon my arrival in Florence on August thirtieth, I was not sure what all to expect. Being in a new place, meeting new people, and speaking a new language were all aspects that I knew were coming my way, but what the semester truly had in store was an experience like none other.
The opportunity to walk the streets of Florence and simply be surrounded by the art of the Renaissance was plenty to fill my semester. Being in a place with such history was truly a privilege and every day I reminded myself of this. As studies got underway, I was also made aware of the influence the city would have on my education and my art.
One of the experiences I was most shaped by, and consider to be one of my most cherished, came not too far into the semester. As part of the ‘Arty Fridays’ held through the fine arts department, a group of students were taken to the studio of artist Giuseppe Restano. After giving a demonstration of our skills, a friend and I were asked to return the remaining weeks of our semester to assist Giuseppe in his work. Although a little nerve racking (we were to be helping Giuseppe with a body of work to be shown this coming July), the first meetings went smoothly, and from there friendships were made. Giuseppe would help us with our Italian and we with his English. As the semester flew by we had our Monday afternoon work time, followed by coffee and discussion of culture, music, and art.
I am so grateful for this experience in particular because of the unexpectedness of it. I had hoped to meet local artists, but had no idea this would become a reality. Having not only the chance to assist an established artist, but also to befriend a local, my friend and I left his studio every Monday discussing our preceding two hours and the impending end to such a wonderful adventure.
Besides working for Giuseppe, my time in Italy was filled with creating and learning. Every day brought new discoveries. Florence as a city is accessible and through Study Abroad Italy I was given the wonderful possibility to get the most of the city. Working in the SAI office, exploring new places and events with friends, venturing to far corners of the city, and being in such an amazing culture were truly the definitions of my studying experience. I am so thankful for this opportunity and hope that others following me will be able to say the same.
Florence University of the Arts - Fall 2011
As an artist, Italy opened my eyes to new inspirations and new ideas. I have created my favorite designs while in Europe, and I’ve noticed how culturally enriching this experience has been, as now I apply it to my sketching and designs.
This semester did not only influence in my self discovery as an artist but also in my personal life as I met a lot of interesting people that I now call friends, I saw how even though we all have different ways of living and cultures, we were not that different from each other; we had the same goals and aspirations in life that bonds us further more. I now have different friends around the world that I know I can count on whenever I want to travel and escape from the real life.
Traveling has been one of the highlights of this trip, I was able to see another side of life that we do not have in El Salvador. Italy for instance taught me to relax and enjoy life, that we work in order to live, not the other way around. Also, France taught me to savor food and not just eat to eat. Barcelona, Portugal, Munich, opened my eyes to places where I would see myself in the future. Being around all of these places showed me that the world has many places that we can hopefully see and experience in the future.
Overall, this semester abroad has been by far the best experience and adventure I have had in my life yet. I have the greatest gratitude towards sponsors that made my scholarship possible and helped me with the burden for me to travel half around the world.
Florence University of the Arts - Fall 2011
My semester spent abroad in Florence, Italy was the best experience of my life. I took challenging, interesting classes that I would not have been able to take at my home institution and learned from some of the most amazing professors that I have ever had. All of my professors covered the required material and made sure to relate the topics to Florence and Italy, so that the students had a greater appreciation for where they were and could apply the concepts to their life in Italy.
SAI gave me the opportunity to meet exceptional people. I made friends from all over the world that I know I will continue to be friends with for the rest of my life. I traveled with these friends to different countries throughout Europe and experienced new cultures and customs that have shaped me to become a more mature, accepting, and educated adult. I spent weeks traveling and exploring every corner of Italy, practicing my Italian, and indulging in delicious local cuisine. By the end of the semester, Italian culture had become a part of who I was.
Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not many people get to take advantage of. A scholarship made it possible for me to do so. I am incredibly appreciative of the scholarship that I received and the experience that I had. I can honestly say that there is no other experience that has changed and shaped me like my time abroad has, and I hope that more people will get to the opportunity to experience the life-changing experience that I did.
Florence University of the Arts - Fall 2011
I have always had a love for traveling and a curiosity for new cultures and new experiences. Whether it is traveling around Asia, within the United States, or even just within my home state of California I love the feeling of being in a new environment where I can be separated from the comforts of home and be subjected to new experiences. Studying abroad in Florence, Italy gave me the most incredible and phenomenal opportunity to be completely immersed in and absorbed with the city, its people, food, traditions, language, culture and lifestyles. With the help of Study Abroad Italy, I was able to enroll in the Florence University of the Arts for one semester and take an enriching series of courses that allowed me to broaden my knowledge and experience in fields such as Italian, Public Relations, sustainability in product design as well as the luxury brand sector. Studying abroad allows one to learn not only in the classroom but also outside that traditional setting during travels and exposure to the culture of that city and the other cultures surrounding it. Being abroad and living in an entirely foreign city taught me so much about myself, my strengths and weaknesses and even helped me realize some new goals and dreams and re-prioritize certain aspects in my life. In the short span of time that I was in Florence, my experience did much to grow and mature my character. I was able to see, taste, feel and experience things I never could have even hoped for in my wildest dreams.
Though studying abroad is a dream for many, it unfortunately is a reality only for some. I was incredibly blessed to receive not only financial aid but scholarships as well which helped me a great deal to realize my dream of going abroad. The financial aid and scholarships I received relieved some of my financial burdens and allowed me to not only go and study in Florence but also travel to many of the beautiful and fascinating countries surrounding Italy. SAI and FUA contributed greatly to arguably the best experience of my life. It definitely was the best decision I’ve made and I could not have done it without the help of these two programs.
Florence University of the Arts - Fall 2011
Thank you for my scholarship for the fall 2011 semester in my study abroad to Florence, Italy. My experience was one I will cherish forever and inspire others to do, as well. I have become a role model to so many of my own classmates, family, and friends because of the experience you helped me have while I lived, traveled, and learned in Florence, Italy. With your help and aid I was able to take this journey and discover myself in the process.
While in Florence I made many new friends, learned more about the Italian culture, and discovered so much in the beautiful city and the surrounding towns. The SAI program was helpful to me and I relied on them for much advice and guidance during my stay. I was able to go on trips to surrounding areas around Florence with the program and the school, Florence University of the Arts, with all the new friends I made. I took advantage of as many of these trips as I could to make my experience in Florence an unforgettable journey. The classes I took were engaging and inspired me to learn more about Florentine culture I was living in. I also learned more about myself being abroad. In my opinion, this was the most important part of my experience abroad. I missed my family and friends dearly, but with all the new challenges I was faced with and adventures I was going on, I was able to discover more about who I am and who I am more capable to be.
Again, I give you credit for this opportunity and my experience abroad. With your help I was able to travel, learn, and grown into the person I am today.
Florence University of the Arts - Fall 2011
At times, I still can’t believe that I actually had the opportunity to study abroad for a whole semester in Florence, Italy. When I recall my experience living in an entirely different world for four months, I consider it nothing less than a remarkable adventure that I was fortunate enough to embark on. Although I may vaguely describe my journey as an amazing, phenomenal, and one of a kind experience to others, I feel that no combination of words can authentically capture what my stay in Italy meant and presented to me.
What I am especially blessed with is the opportunity to have gone abroad, especially under my special circumstances. Coming from a disadvantaged background and a family of low socioeconomic status, I never had the privilege of traveling or going on family vacations. All I ever knew was the poverty, violence, and drugs of the west side of my hometown. People from my neighborhood never amounted to anything and so to have been able to defeat the negative stereotype of people of Hispanic descent proved to be extremely gratifying.
I always kept this in the back of my mind everywhere I went under the Tuscan sun and beyond. I feel exceptionally fortunate to have been able to learn about the history and culture of Florence, learn the Italian language, and make local friends of whom I still keep in touch with. To be fully immersed in the Italian way of life has definitely helped me grow and define the person I aspire to be. I have gained a different insight and international perspective of the world which was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I greatly appreciate SAI for leading and guiding me down this path; one I will never forget.
John Cabot University - Fall 2011
They say that studying abroad is the experience of a lifetime…and they were right. But what the brochures don’t tell you is that during one’s stay, the bond and relationships one forges translates into a second family faster than you can imagine.
The day I left the comfort of California to a completely foreign country was a huge step in itself. I had never been more than an hour away from my home in my entire life, and here I was, traveling across continents to a country where I didn’t know a single person or the language. Needless to say, I was apprehensive.
But those feelings did not last long.
Thankfully, I became adapted to Rome within the first couple of days. My roommates and I got along exceptionally well, and we quickly became close to the neighboring apartment that housed eight boys. Along with another apartment filled with six girls, we were inseparable. I’ve never been in a situation where it was natural to become best friends with each and every person in a group of twenty. But it happened - quickly. Our bond with each other was unmatchable. It was the daily events that got us close so quickly, whether it was simply getting together and planning trips at one of our apartments, frequenting Scholars Irish Pub every Tuesday for karaoke, watching Sunday night football, or grabbing a quick bite to eat at our usual pizzeria. What most people don’t realize before they study abroad is that you spend almost every waking moment with these people, whether it is studying at school, going out at night, or grabbing a cup of coffee during the day.
During my time abroad, I saw everything the Eternal City had to offer- the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain became daily grateful reminders that I was living amidst ancient history. I also traveled nearly every weekend: it is a rare occasion to see the canals of Amsterdam, attend an FC Barcelona game, watch the sunset at the D-Day Beaches in Normandy, take a romantic gondola ride in Venice, climb the steps to the beautiful view Piazza Michelangelo has to offer in Florence, jump off cliffs in the Amalfi Coast, run through the grass in the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, stroll through the Christmas markets in Brussels and partake in the revelry at Oktoberfest in Munich…all in a three month span. Yes, it is impressive to say that I traveled throughout Europe at the young age of twenty. Nonetheless, it is even more memorable to say that I traveled Europe with the most interesting, energetic, vivacious people I have met in my life. I am so thankful that they are now my lifelong friends who supported me every step of the way.
My experience abroad has truly changed my life. I left Rome on December 17, 2011. On that bittersweet Saturday morning, I left with an immense amount of confidence and an even larger zest for life. I attribute much of my change to the friends I now consider my family. Without these twenty wonderful people, my experience would not have been the same. My wallet may have a dent, but every memory and friendship was worth every penny spent.
I am very fortunate to have had the experience of a life time in Rome these last three and a half months. Most importantly, the SAI scholarship truly provided me with the opportunity to see the world and enrich my experience. My family and I sincerely appreciate our sponsors’ generous contributions. I benefited overwhelmingly from this opportunity, and I know that others will also take advantage of these great opportunities SAI offers and have an experience as memorable and incredible as mine. I hope our sponsors will continue to support student learning with SAI. Thank you again for an experience that will never, ever be matched.
John Cabot University - Fall 2011
First and foremost I would like to thank Study Abroad Italy and all the supporters of the program and scholarship. I am honored to have been the recipient of a SAI scholarship, and cannot thank everyone enough for the opportunity and the experiences it has brought me.
When I was a freshman in college I always dreamed of studying abroad. As my college years began to pass by, I found myself in the middle of my junior year and still hadn’t studied abroad. Some events happened in my life and I found myself at a crossroads – I suddenly had the chance to study abroad, was I going to take it?
I did. And don’t regret a thing.
My semester in Italy was the best experience of my life. I was able to attend courses whose topics were about the city I was living in. I was able to connect what I learned in the classroom to the things around me, or for my on-site class learn about the Medieval Roman artwork right in front of me. I traveled around the continent to places like Austria and France, experiencing new cultures on top of immersing myself in the Italian lifestyle both in Rome and in other cities such as Florence and Venice. On top of doing my own traveling I also went on the SAI organized trips and activities, which were always incredible. One of my favorites was the Tuscany weekend, where we were able to experience the history and culture of Tuscany. We had amazing accommodations, delicious food, and fun activities such as horseback riding or mountain biking.
As an intern at the SAI office it was really amazing to see all of their hard work that I witnessed come to fruition. I know I enjoyed myself immensely in all the activities I was able to make it to. Moreover, working in the office was also an educational experience, where I learned first hand some of details of what it takes to manage a branch of this type of business. It helped me learn more about the importance of communication, organization, and running a business. I was greatly impressed by the SAI office and am grateful for the opportunity to learn from them.
In addition to the trips I took and my internship, simply living abroad, in a new country and culture, with a different language and lifestyle, was the greatest challenge and life changing experience of all. It taught me about communication, human relations, and tolerance. It helped me learn to adapt to new environments and situations, and accepting differences in lifestyles rather than fight against them.
I look back now at the end of it all, and only have positive thoughts. None of which would have been possible without my scholarship. The aid I received eased the financial burden of studying abroad and enabled me to focus less on how I was going to afford to study abroad and more about enjoying the experience. I hope one day that I can help students study abroad, because I know from personal experience that scholarships like the one I received was a financial relief which helped me make memories that will last me a lifetime. I am forever grateful for this scholarship and the opportunity to study abroad; it has been a life changing experience that I will never forget and would recommend to every student.
John Cabot University - Fall 2011
Hello, I would like to take a moment to tell others about my experience studying abroad in Rome. It will be difficult to summarize since it was the most amazing three and half months of my life. A page of my experiences will not do this magnificent journey justice, so this letter will only barely touch on my experiences in Rome. My writing ability is not great as I am a Biology major, but I did keep a blog during my stay that paints a better and more vivid picture. You can find it at http://baylorgirl14.wordpress.com if interested, but still let me share with you my overall experience.
Rome was a life changing experience. Many people told me it would be, but I did not understand to what degree. I feel so privileged to have received this opportunity. I am also very grateful to have received the scholarship from SAI. Rome was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Spending three and a half months in that magnificent city was not nearly enough time. I keep trying to think of ways I can go back for more than just a vacation. If I had a different major I would definitely study abroad in Rome again, but unfortunately with a Biology major it is a little difficult. I loved the day in and day out lifestyle there. It took some time getting used to. I can’t say how many times I forgot that Italy takes a nap in the middle of the day and went to the grocery store during that time to find it closed. It was such an interesting journey, going from completely captivated by the new culture and learning how to fit in, to still completely captivated but fitting in, taking in the culture and applying it. Even after becoming used to the customs and the scenery I still appreciated it. The Pantheon, my favorites structure in Rome, took my breath away every time. Rome may be very old, but it never gets old. My minor is in Classics so everything I was learning in class I was seeing in the city, which made the experience richer. Rome was my learning playground and learning was so enjoyable in this setting. When I told friends and family back home about my on site class they responded, “You get class credit to go explore Rome?!” That was such an incredible way to learn. In ways, Italy was exactly what I expected and in other ways it was more. I did not realize how beautiful and astonishing the structures would be. The only thing that caught me off guard was the lack of Italian music. In fact, I recall shopping and hearing NSYNC and Lady Gaga one day. Italy did not disappoint me though on pasta, Italian accents, vino, hearing ‘Ciao Bella’, and cobblestone streets. I loved that these things were actually like I had been told they were and not just exaggerated in movies. Oh, and the espressos! I loved stopping by a café on the way to class to grab an espresso and a small pastry. Another aspect of Italian culture that I like was being able to walk everywhere. In America we are so dependent on cars, but by walking you get to see so much more, really enjoy your time with your friends, and of course burn off some of that pasta! I will definitely incorporate that more into my lifestyle when I go home. I truly will miss the Italian lifestyle.
Studying in Rome also helped me to grow as a person. I have always lived close to home and being far away helped me to mature and become more independent. I had also never been to Europe so I really enjoyed being exposed to a new culture outside of what I was comfortable with for an extended period of time. I made many friends, both Americans and Italians, that I will keep in touch with. One of my favorite memories with an Italian friend was on Thanksgiving. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner with him in his Italian home in the middle of a Vineyard for 15 people. Some of these people had never had Thanksgiving before. They loved it!
SAI only added to the already amazing experience. Through their program I was able to participate in some of my favorite parts of the trip such as the wine tasting, the weekend getaway to Tuscany, and volunteering at the homeless shelter. My experience at the homeless shelter was such a unique opportunity. I volunteer at home, but this was much different than anything I had ever done before. It also truly submersed me into the Roman culture. The people at the shelter were so grateful for our help and even though I could not speak their language we could understand each other to some degree through hand jesters and facial expressions. Had SAI not offered these opportunities I would not have had them on my own.
I think anybody who has an opportunity to study abroad should jump at it and I encourage people on nearly a daily basis to do so. I am very thankful to SAI for providing a great program to participate in. I miss Rome very much, but I will find ways to stay tied to Rome as I carry the memories I made there with me forever. I will return to Rome one day. Hopefully, I will be able to show my family where I made so many memories, matured, adjusted to a new culture, and made lifelong friends.
Sant'Anna Institute - Sorrento Lingue - Fall 2011
A study abroad experience is the amazing chance to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of fast paced college life and breathe in a new and refreshing culture. During my time in Italy I have realized what it means to be outside of a traditional classroom and into the world's first hand experiences. Although a picture is worth a thousand words, nothing compares to seeing something with your own eyes. My first amazing semester of college I was lucky enough to spend in Sorrento Italy. In Sorrento I was able to take an art history class and visit world famous archeology sites like Pompeii. Throughout the course of my first marine biology class I visited the oldest aquarium in Europe in Naples, a turtle sanctuary and went snorkeling in the bay of Sorrento. All my classes were so different from anything I'd ever taken and they opened my eyes to a new world and culture, Southern Italy.
No doubt there were immense challenges but I must say, everything worked out fine in the end and this experience has changed me for the better. I've experienced things I never could have imagined, I've seen amazing works of art and history, and made life long friends along the way. To the sponsors who make study abroad possible, thank you, any contribution to towards a cultural experience is an amazing gift to a student.
Sant'Anna Institute - Sorrento Lingue - Fall 2011
My time studying abroad in Sorrento Italy was a life changing experience. I was fortunate enough to study in Sorrento, Italy at the school Sant’Anna Institute Sorrento Lingue. Making the choice to study in such a small town, and at such a small school, allowed me to become a part of the community and really get to know the area. I was also lucky enough to get to know people at the local businesses. By the end of my time in Sorrento I knew the people at my favorite Panini store and Café. I was also fortunate enough to stay with a family when I was in Italy. This was the best choice I made while there. Living with a family is the best way to have to true Italian experience. Every night I had a home cooked Italian meal and sat and talked with my host sister, host mother and host brother. Each of which had a different piece of Italian culture to offer. Living with a host family was also the best way to learn Italian. I truly enjoyed my time in Italy and am thankful to have been given a scholarship to help give me the opportunity to study abroad. I hope every student considers studying in a small town like me so they can have a similar experience.
Apicius International School of Hospitality - Spring 2012
A famous quote by St. Augustine states, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” My study abroad experience has truly shown me the wisdom behind these words.
When you tell people you are studying abroad they always say, “How lucky!” or “You’re going to have so much fun!” But what they don’t tell you is how much it is going to affect you, and impact your life from that moment forward.
Over my four months in Italy I have become a more self reliant, independent, and flexible person. Before coming to Florence, I was a homebody; the biggest move I made was leaving home in New York to go to college in Florida. Yet, even though I had the ability to leave home for college, I always told myself that as soon as I graduated college I was moving back home and finding a job near my family. This trip has taught me that distance is not in miles or kilometers; it is only as far as you perceive it to be. I have learned that life is what you make of it and you can’t let any experience pass you by. If you focus on what you don’t have, its impossible to enjoy what you do have. When I think about my future I am more flexible and willing to enjoy the moment and follow the path life takes me on.
Over this semester I have traveled to five different countries and throughout Italy. I have experienced so many different cultures, and traveled places I never even considered going before coming abroad. I have a better sense of the world, and the people in it and my love for travel has only grown. Mainly my experience with SAI has given me the opportunity to study baking in a country famous for its food, and experience the world. I have met many great friends and developed a Florence “family” that I will always remember. Study abroad is an experience that one can never forget. Whether it’s through the people, experiences or its affect on you as an individual, it is an experience that changes your view and approach to the world for the rest of your life and teaches you to appreciate what you have.
Thank you so much for your help in allowing me this experience. I will always appreciate this experience and how it has helped me grow to open my mind to the world.
Best wishes and many thanks.
Florence University of the Arts - Spring 2012
My trip abroad was more than I ever thought it could be. I knew that I would like it here but I did not know I would fall in love with the people I met and Italy itself.
I have met some of the most amazing people along the way, mostly my roommates. I know that after this we will keep in touch and that I am a lucky person to have met them. I have met people from all around the globe and learned so many things from them, things I could never even grasp in Kentucky. I was so thrilled to meet people that were also excited and willing to meet new people. Not only were the people in my program great, so were all of the locals. In Italy the environment is so laid back and pleasant. I didn't have cash on me at one shop and the owner told me to come back and pay him when I could. I could not believe this. I was even shocked so many people left their bikes unchained! The culture is everything I could have ever dreamed of.
If it wasn't for the excursions SAI planned I do not think I would have seen as much culture as I would have liked. SAI's Umbria trip was the best part of this whole experience. I feel like I got to see authentic Italian countryside, culture, and food. The food was out of this world! I also saw Siena, Verona, and a few other cities. Everywhere you go is just breathtaking!
Just in general, everyone affiliated with the program, Squola and FUA were so ready to help whenever I needed it, I never felt worried or out of place. I do not even think I had "culture shock" in any way. I am truly in love with this place and I know that none of this would have been possible without this scholarship. This is something I will never forget and has shaped me forever.
Florence University of the Arts - Spring 2012
Before I even stepped foot in Italy, I already felt well prepared. My advisor at SAI had been looking out for me since the moment I applied. She made sure that I was on track and had everything I needed. I felt confident coming abroad. Then it was the difficult part, actually leaving and transitioning into my new life here in Florence. I was worried but there wasn’t a moment that a member of the SAI staff wasn’t there to help me. They picked me up from the airport and brought me to my apartment as well as already set up a cell phone for me. There were numerous times where I was lost and confused and my phone call or email was immediately returned with some helpful tips and answers.
My past few months here have truly been the greatest months of my life. Through all my travels and adventures here my favorite moments have been in the city of Florence. My friends and I spent a majority of our time in local cafés, out on the piazza’s, or roaming the many streets and parks. This strange place slowly stopped being so strange. Every time I left on a trip, my excitement grew a little more to return home to Florence. It doesn’t even feel weird calling Florence “home”. As college students, it’s hard to establish a point of home at this time in our life. From being away at school, to going back to our roots, and then exploring different summer internships away it is difficult to find a sense of belonging. But I belong in Florence. I know that in the days to come when I leave, I will be leaving behind a piece of me here.
This truly life-altering experience was all possible because of the people at SAI. They helped me with everything. Planning trips, picking out classes, my student visa, what to pack, what to do when I got here. I didn’t know if I would be able to do much when I finally arrived, but with the help of the scholarship that I received through the program, I was able to live my semester to the fullest. There aren’t words to express my gratitude to the staff at SAI. Because of them I got to live out a life long dream. Do things that I never thought were imaginable. Being here changed my life and they were the ones who helped me to this point. I believe that everyone at some point in his or her lives should get to experience living abroad. It really helps a person mature and gain confidence. I’ve been forced to realize the kind of person I want to be in life and find out what matters most to me. I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had with my time over here and I will never forget the great people at SAI who helped make it possible.
Florence University of the Arts - Spring 2012
Attempting to put my experience abroad in Florence into words has been more challenging than I anticipated. I cannot find the words to describe how much this experience has changed and improved me. The lessons I have learned and the people I have met will stay with me throughout my life.
Study abroad has taught me many things. It is this ability to learn that I loved most about my study abroad trip. Every day I was faced with challenges: trying to understand Italian, trying to find my place within Florence, even simple tasks such as buying postage stamps became an ordeal. However, dealing with these difficulties is the most important lesson I have learned throughout my college career. I was forced to adapt to new situations and to learn to let go of certain things. More importantly, however, I learned to see the world through a different perspective. This adventure introduced me to a new culture, with different rules, norms and customs. These differences challenged everything I had ever known about the way the world works. They forced me to open my eyes and see the world through a new outlook.
Specifically, Italy introduced me to a slower pace of life. My focus was not on my future but rather on living in the present. In Italy, I was truly happy because the country caused me to relax and enjoy the simple things in life. My life in Italy did not consist of stress, as it did in the United States but rather I was free of worries. Having this time to contemplate helped me re-prioritize my life. Specifically, this journey has taught me to follow my heart and do what I love. Before living in Italy, I had a strong passion for everything Italian: the culture, the history, and especially the language. Now after traveling to Italy for four months, my love for everything Italian has not been quenched but rather that spark has developed into a full-blown fire. I now realize that in order to be happy I need to do something in my life that I love. I love Italian and have decided to pursue this passion further. At this point, I don’t know where this passion will take me but I have decided to forgo plans and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.
Studying abroad in Italy has given me a new clarity on life. Through the struggles I had in Italy, the people I have met, and the lessons I have learned, I now know that I need to strive to be happy. I need to appreciate the little things in life and not worry about the small insignificant things. Life is too short to be unhappy and I don’t want to spend my time worrying.
I have realized that my life is just beginning and it is full of possibilities. I have so much more to learn, so many more experiences to experience, so many more people to meet. While I am sad that my study abroad journey is over, I am happy that it occurred because this experience has forced me to mature, to open my eyes, and to become the person I have always wanted to be.
John Cabot University - Spring 2012
...I was awarded the Spring 2012 Fellowship with SAI at their Rome office. It was because of this scholarship that I was able to receive the most inspiring and most enlightening experience of my life. I studied in Italy from January through May, an event that I could only dream of happening until this scholarship made it a reality.
This experience opened my eyes to the world around me. I was submerged into a completely different culture who spoke a different language and had many different customs. As I learned to adapt to this new culture, I also learned new skills that will help me as I move forward in life. Skills such as patience, problem solving, and communicating without speaking the same language were at the forefront as I frequently encountered Italians who knew little to no English.
As my experience comes to an end and I begin to pack to go home, I can confidently say that this has been the best decision of my entire life. I can also say that this has been the best experience of my life as well. The life lessons and experience you gain while studying abroad surpasses any education a simple classroom can give you. I would encourage any college student to study abroad; to get out of their comfort zone and experience the world. It’s a beautiful place.
John Cabot University - Spring 2012
As they always say, all roads lead to Rome. Between the history of art, architecture, religion and government, millions of people do their daily business surrounded by over 2,000 years of history. As the capital of Italy, Rome is naturally the political center and major religious hub. How unbelievable is it that I can say I lived in this unique and amazing city? Studying here, I have learned from Rome and its Mediterranean rate of life. From the politics to the open markets, to the sudden strikes, I have seen it all.
Studying abroad through SAI in Rome has been the most life-changing experience and one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. In addition, studying abroad has aided me in learning to speak Italian. Being immersed in a culture that speaks Italian, I have been surrounded by the language on a daily basis and have seen and heard it in the proper context. I definitely believe language learning, for me at least, has happened most quickly under these conditions.
Weekends and spring break gave me the opportunity to venture out and explore both the surrounding cities within Italy as well as surrounding countries. Conveniently located in Europe, I was much closer to places I might otherwise not have had the chance to visit. For instance, I over spring break I visited Nice, Monte Carlo, Cannes, and Paris which I would have never been able to do from the States. Also, SAI provided us with included field trips, which were fun and effortless, especially since they were already planned. My favorite SAI trip was probably to a vineyard for a wine tasting at Sergio Matura’s. It gave me the chance to see how wine was made and to taste many varieties in a controlled setting with helpful instruction. Having the opportunity to travel, I truly learned so much and gained incalculable experience leading a life submersed in another culture.
Speaking of other cultures, studying abroad has allowed me to become familiar with the Italian culture first-hand. While some may believe cultural differences are merely variations in language, appearance, personal habits, and food, it is truly so much more. The Italian culture reflects their perceptions, beliefs, and values that influence their day-to-day life. My view of the world has definitely been altered because of some of the beliefs I became accustomed to after living here for a semester. For instance, Sundays and siestas have a new meaning to me. Whereas they were once just a day that I did not have school and my parents did not work, they are now much more important. I have learned to appreciate Sunday as it is solely thought of as a day of rest and time to spend with family and loved ones. Italian families spend all day preparing delicious meals to bring their family together. I have learned this is very valuable and hope to continue the tradition with my family back at home. Furthermore, even though we do not uphold siesta in the United States, it has been refreshing to have it while studying abroad. The break from about 2-4 PM is extremely stimulating and gives everyone a chance to recuperate.
The most important and exciting aspects of studying abroad have been finding myself as well as making friends from all around the world. Studying through SAI at the renowned John Cabot University, I have taken classes and formed friendships with the most exciting people from various states and countries all around the world, including locals from right here in Rome. Departing for home in two days, I can guarantee I will be returning with new perspectives and ideas about our native culture and myself. Seeing how sparingly many people live here in Rome, I have definitely altered my own beliefs and values. Having been so uninformed just like so many other Americans, I will be returning home much better informed and less biased towards other cultures and people. My matured worldview has allowed me to view my own culture through new eyes. I have high hopes that my abroad experience will help enhance my employment opportunities provided that the world continues to become more globalized and invested in the international market. I am optimistic my experience studying abroad in a foreign country will set me apart in enhancing my employment opportunities. Once again, I have to thank SAI for doing everything in their power to provide me with this life-altering experience that has changed me for the better.
John Cabot University - Spring 2012
Choosing to live and study in Rome, Italy was by far the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life. The 4 months that I spent in Italy have allowed me to see, taste, hear, learn, experience and appreciate the world. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Study Abroad Italy (SAI). The scholarship awarded to me by SAI has afforded me a ton of beautiful memories and an enriching life experience. I remember the fears I had before coming to Italy to study abroad, one of them being the cost and expenses of living abroad. This scholarship, however, made my decision to pursue the study abroad experience a much easier one.
I’m now at the end of this incredible journey and could not be more compelled to urge others to make the same decision. Some students may be torn between the cost of the program. There are always need-based and merit-based scholarships that can help with the cost of tuition. In addition, SAI had their own private scholarships that they award to students that can really alleviate financial worries. Some students may be unsure if Italy is the right country to study in. After traveling most of Europe (12 countries), I’d have to say that Italy is my favorite country. The culture, the food, the language, the way of life is so different than in any other European country. You can actually feel like you’re living in a different world, whereas other European countries are more modern and Westernized. It’s definitely the best option, and SAI is the program to do it with! Some students may even be worried about leaving their friends and family. Let me just say, the people I met through the SAI program became not only my close friends, but also my family for 4 months. We went on trips together, explored the city together, cooked together and studied together. We were just like a family in our home away from home.
SAI is truly set apart by all other study abroad organizations and companies by their understanding of the students’ needs. From the get go, I’ve never felt for a moment neglected by SAI. Throughout the time spent here, we’ve gotten to know our on-site coordinators and we can all agree they that only express the most genuine care and concern for us. They always greet us with smiles and invite all sorts of questions, whether it be able traveling to another country, directions, personal advice or even cooking recipes. Their attentive to our needs and are there to provide us with anything!
In addition, the free inclusive excursions provided by SAI make the 4 months so much more exciting. My favorite excursion was the trip to the Hidden Treasures of Lazio and Tuscany. Our weekend trip to the region of Maremma in Southern Tuscany was one of the most relaxing weekends of the year. We stayed at the resort, Residence Terme di Sorano where we ate local traditional food, enjoyed our thermal baths, massages, rode on horses through a winery, and tasted local wine and cheese. SAI also took us to visit the towns of Sovana and Pitigliano which were some of the most unique and interesting places I've ever been to. The quaint town of Pitigliano was one of my favorite places I've been to in Italy, if not Europe. I couldn’t believe that the entire weekend was free. Everything from our mini-tours, transportation, meals, activities were all included and provided for by the program, and there were all top-notch provisions.
I don’t want to think that I will close this chapter of my life. I want to think that I will continue it. Coming to Rome was step one of many life-changing decisions I’d make. I am so much closer to my dreams and aspirations because of the things I’ve learned and people I’ve met while abroad. I feel so indebted to and grateful for Study Abroad Italy for having provided this experience through their rewarding scholarship program and also through a great team of staff and personnel who truly care that we have the most amazing experience possible. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world!
John Cabot University - Spring 2012
When I was planning my study abroad experience back in the summer of 2011, I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it. I had studied abroad before, but not for an entire four months, and not with the kind of independence that this trip promised. I was excited, and scared, and happy, and worried all at the same time. The day I left the United States for Italy I was a bundle of nervous energy that didn’t slow down until weeks into my trip. And so began one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Looking back now, I can say without a doubt that going to John Cabot University in Rome, Italy with Study Abroad Italy has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. My experience with Study Abroad Italy was amazing, whether they were suggesting hotels for me, helping me recover lost luggage, offering an Italian Aperitivo or a trip to Tuscany, or helping me with multiple apartment breakdowns.
But beyond my experience with Study Abroad Italy is just my experience in Rome as a whole. My study abroad trip was different from anything that I expected, and it has changed me in ways that I am only now beginning to understand, and will continue to discover as the months go by. Studying abroad has made me more independent, more self-sufficient, and it has made me question what I really want from life.
So needless to say, from beginning to end this has been a learning experience, and an amazing one at that. I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to go to Rome this semester and do the amazing things that I did.
Sant'Anna Institute - Sorrento Lingue - Spring 2012
When I decided to study abroad for a semester, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but I did know what I wanted to gain from spending a semester in Italy. I wanted to learn about a different culture than my own, and find more of myself in that different place. I wanted to challenge myself with new experiences, and discover what it means to be a global citizen. After an entire semester living and studying in Sorrento, Italy, I think I gained all those things and so much more.
In just four short months, the little town of Sorrento had become much more than simply the place I chose to study abroad--it had become my home away from home. After a few weeks of feeling like somewhat of an outsider looking in, I managed to find my place in this close-knit small town. I exchanged greetings with the same man outside his deli each morning on my way to school, my friends and I have gotten to know the owner of the bar we frequent for lunch (they have the most amazing pasta al tono) so well that we share lunch with his family on the weekends. The close community atmosphere made immersing myself in the culture the easy and natural thing to do: after dinner each night, my roommate and I would walk down to the shore, as many Surrentinos do, and speak only in Italian until we got back home. Though our conversations may not have made perfect sense to a native speaker listening in, these walks really helped me learn the language, and became my favorite part of my day.
Not only did I have the chance to learn a new culture and language, but I also discovered some things about myself. Everyone was so open and friendly in Sorrento that I quickly adopted the same attitude. If I heard someone speaking English at a bar or gelateria, I found myself going right up to them and introducing myself. Sometimes, if I felt especially brave, I would try to strike up conversations with some of the locals that I see regularly around town. At first month I was shy and embarrassed by my poor Italian, but after making so many friends by simply saying hello ( or ciao), it seemed silly for me to not put myself out there and make connections.
Though there were many moments during which I felt so excited about all the learning, both of my self and of the world around me, I was doing in Italy, I think the most amazing experience had to be my last in Italy. While waiting to board my plane from Napoli back to New York, an older couple sitting next to me offered me some biscotti. Always having room for cookies, I gladly accepted. Soon the elderly man and I were having a conversation: he told me he and his wife were going to see their daughter get married, and I told him that I was flying home after studying in Sorrento for four months. Though my Italian was still a little rocky and he spoke not a word of English, somehow we spent the next half hour sharing stories with each other. Before we got in line to board our flight, he said something which stuck in my head. He told me that it was a great thing for two people who came from different parts of the world, different generations, different languages all together, could still find a way to share stories, because that is how we learn and grow. I couldn't agree more.
Studying abroad through SAI presented many challenges: language barriers, culture shock, but all of these hurdles opened doors for me to have unforgettable experiences. The old man in the airport was right: stories and experiences are the most important things we have, because those things keep us learning from each other and growing with each other. To be a good global citizen means being open to share your stores and willing to listen to others'. I know that because of my semester studying with SAI in Sorrento, I will have the skills to be a lifelong learner no matter where in the world I am.
Domus Academy - Masters 2009/2010
I am writing this letter in regards to the scholarship I received from SAI for the 2009-2010 scholastic year that I attended the Masters in Interior Design and Living program at Domus Academy in Milan, Italy.
In 2009 I lost my interior design position at a firm that was greatly affected by the economic recession. I saw this occurrence as a perfect opportunity for me to enroll in a Masters program. Domus Academy, with its location in Milan, would allow me not only to further my education in interior design but also give me the opportunity to live in Italy for a year.
Milan, being the world capital for design, offered endless amounts of inspiration in the field of interior design. The city is filled with furniture and home showrooms that I was able to visit while living there. Also, I was extremely fortunate to be in Milan in April for the yearly Salone del Mobile. The week-long Salone del Mobile is considered one of the largest furniture fairs in the world and showcases the latest in design. It was absolutely incredible to be in Milan during this, not only to see the newest, most cutting-edge designs in the field but also to witness the city literally transform itself during this week.
Because of its Northern location in Italy, Milan is very accessible to other European cities. I took advantage of this by traveling as much as I could. One of the more memorable trips I took was to Stockholm, Sweden for yet another furniture fair. Never having visited a Scandinavian country I was completely enthralled by it and found it incredibly inspiring from a design perspective.
Despite what it may seem, it was definitely not a year of all fun and games. The Masters program at Domus Academy – due to being only a year-long and thus an accelerated one – could be quite challenging at times. All projects completed at Domus Academy, except for the thesis, are projects that are fulfilled as a group. Given the fact that the school has an extremely diverse student body, we were made to work with others that possess completely different backgrounds, skill sets and manners of work. This, even with the difficulties that would occasionally arise, proved to be an extremely enriching experience.
My year at Domus Academy ended with the individual thesis. For this I worked on a renovation of an existing hotel in Tetouan, Morocco. Because of the limited time and large scale of the project this was definitely a challenge, but the final result that I achieved is one that I am extremely proud of and am certain that it will strengthen my portfolio.
I would like to express my utmost gratitude and appreciation for having been awarded this scholarships. This scholarship was a great help in allowing me to have the amazing experience of attending a Masters program in Italy. The experience I had at Domus Academy and more generally while living in Italy is one that I have taken so much from, and I am certain it will hold great value to me in all my future endeavors.
Florence University of the Arts - Fall 2010
I went on my semester experience to Italy knowing that it would change me and that I would learn a lot, but I don’t think that I expected that it would change me so much, or that the things that I have learned will be lessons I will take with me for the rest of my life. I came to Italy with the expectations of adventure and learning in a new culture, but came out with a whole new outlook on many things and an experience that will change my life from this point on.
Trying to function in a completely new culture was one of those experiences that will forever change how I view the world. At first, being in a country where you obviously stand out as a foreigner was a nerve racking experience, having never lived anywhere where I was a cultural minority. It can make you feel isolated and very lonely. Simple tasks such as grocery shopping suddenly become quite difficult and you are confronted with the demanding undertaking of finding your way around and learning how the system works.
However, it was this very discovery of how Italian culture functions that completely changed my experience. I was forced into a place where I felt uncomfortable and out of my element, but I found a way to work through it and find solutions to problems. This gave me a new sense of ownership and pride in what I had accomplished and that I could survive in a foreign country. It also created a new found appreciation for the simplicity of my life in the United States. Although there are problems and setbacks every once in a while, it is much easier to deal with things when you are in a place that has the same language and culture that you are used to.
I learned a lot about how Italian society functions and began to realize what my place could be within that function. Eventually, I felt as if I was part of the Italian culture as opposed to the outsider that I related with at the beginning of the trip. Of course there were many difficulties along the way and it was not a simple or easy process for me to go through, but I believe that the knowledge and new experiences that I have gained far outweigh the struggles that I faced.
I know that I am returning home with a new understanding of the world and an appreciation for other cultures as well as my own. That alone is something that I would say would make the trip worthwhile; but it goes so much more beyond even that. I think that I come back to the United States as a completely new person, redirected and reformed through my experience abroad.
Florence University of the Arts - Fall 2010
My one hundred and twelve days in Florence was, yes, the most wonderful adventure I’ve experienced in my life but it was also the most challenging obstacle I have ever faced. Still, it is the challenging experiences that I cherish and reflect upon the most because I can see how much I’ve grown and gained in them. Don’t get me wrong, walking down the narrow, stone cobbled alleys, observing Italians greeting their friends and neighbors with such delight and hearing the distance church bells of the Cathedral clanging away was pretty perfect. But getting locked out of my apartment three times, surrounded by people whom I couldn’t understand or barely communicate with, and not being able to call home, was very challenging-those only being the beginning of my trials. And while I think most people would love to stay in Italy for an extended amount of time with the image that Hollywood portrays foreign countries to be-perfect-I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I learned more about Italian culture: the difficulties of living with paper thin walls, small apartments, no air conditioning, mosquitoes, no drying machines, short showers, no television, and cappuccinos on the go. And while at times it was frustrating and caused me to adapt, I also gained the positive aspects of Italian culture: Learning that time is relative, family is more important than money, work, or fame, art is to be appreciated, enjoying delicious food-and in abundance, and loving the simple life. After experiencing my Study Abroad Italy semester, I can say I’ve previously never been more challenged, but I can also say I’ve never gained so much in my life. Thank you SAI for such an amazing experience.
John Cabot University - Fall 2010
Studying abroad has certainly been a defining moment in my education that has allowed me to gain knowledge and insight into another country’s culture and way of life, and is something I would recommend to anyone. It’s a learning experience which cannot be attained at your home campus or home country. There’s no better way to understand another culture than to be surrounded by it, and there’s no better way to understand your own culture than to look at it from a different perspective. While studying abroad every day I was subject to learn something new due to the fact that I was submerged in a different environment than that which I was accustomed to. I have personally grown and matured from this self-journey because I was always being exposed to new ways of thinking and living. Studying abroad was a great opportunity that allowed for me to broaden my horizons intellectually and help me understand international, political, and economic issues. It has also offered me great networking opportunities, since I now have friends all over the United States as well as in different countries, and on different continents. Participating in the SAI program has given me the opportunity to enhance my academic learning by the international exchange of thoughts and ideas. In the 21st century, to be valued as an educated person, it is very important to have skills that come from exposure to other cultures as well as an understanding of different societies. This program has given me the firsthand experience to gain these skills and understanding by being directly submerged and exposed to the Italian culture. As for my future career, this program has opened a window of opportunities for career enhancement. Studying abroad is not only a great resume builder, but a great way to network for future job opportunities. As the world continues to become more globalized, employers expect their employees to be educated in a global environment and have an understanding of different cultures. This program has prepared me to function efficiently in today’s global environment as well as understand the intellectual diversity in our world.
In conclusion to my thoughts on studying abroad, it is most important to give credit where credit is due. As a student in great need of financial aid, I was only able to complete my amazing study abroad experience, because I received the SAI [scholarship]. I used this scholarship to fulfill my dream of studying abroad, and it not only gave me the ability to be financially secure, but allowed for me to travel throughout Italy and Europe and gave me the opportunity to accomplish both my academic and personal goals for studying abroad. I hope that sponsors will continue to support SAI in their goals, and that other students who are in great financial need like myself will not see studying abroad as an experience inaccessible to them but will be given the chance to experience the same opportunity as I did.
John Cabot University - Fall 2010
I would like to start off by saying that I cannot be more thankful for offering me the opportunity of studying abroad. This has definitely been the greatest experience I have ever had and will surely be remembered for the rest of my life.
Studying abroad contributes not only to my educational life, but also to my personal and professional life. John Cabot University is a great university since it offers small classes and personalized education. Without a doubt, I remember most of the material studied in my “Finance,” “International Economics,” and “Business Ethics” class. Being taught by foreign teachers gave me a more extensive perspective of how to do business around the world. My on-site class, “Ancient Rome and Its Monuments” was so enjoyed and enlightening that on my last day in Rome I decided to go back to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Coliseum and give a personalized tour to a visiting friend. Additionally, my “Intermediate Italian” class and the exposure to the Italian language have been incredible for improving my language skills. If it wasn’t for this, I could not consider myself a fluent Italian speaker.
Moreover, with this experience I have mastered to arts of cooking, grocery shopping, and doing laundry the Italian-way. Also, becoming an expert in getting around Rome made me an efficient traveler in other cities as well since I can now easily understand an entire city’s public transportation system. On a professional level, I have now studied in three different continents and speak three different languages. With this experience, my resume turned into a mind-blower and I haven’t even finished college. Even more, I meet people and made friends from around the world which can easily turn out to be business partners in the future.
Studying abroad, or getting out of your comfort zone, as I like to call it, is an amazing educational adventure that all university students should have if they have the opportunity. Unfortunately, not everybody has the means to afford an entire semester in a foreign country. Luckily, there exists the blessing of scholarships which make incredible experiences like this one affordable to a greater population. Right now I am not only thankful for receiving this scholarship but I am also gratified by the fact the more people can have learning opportunities because of people like you.
John Cabot University - Fall 2010
The last four months have been incredible as I have had the opportunity to walk the ancient streets of the city of Rome, Italy. Famous sites that I once read about in history classes, I was able to personally visit. A few pages in a book pales with the ability to see with one’s own eyes places such as the Roman Forum, Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican. I have viewed the city at night from the banks of the Tiber River and I have enjoyed coffee with locals at small cafes I happened upon while exploring the city.
My ability to live in Rome for a semester greatly increased my understanding and knowledge of the Italian culture and people. I found Italy to be vastly different from the United States. The first difference I encountered occurred on the ride from the airport to my apartment. I noticed that the vehicles were small, and many people drove motorcycles. My shuttle, along with every other vehicle on the highway, weaved in and out of lanes while the sound of car horns permeated the air.
In the months to come, I experienced not only the differences in the traffic and transportation systems but in the daily life I came to know. Italians enjoyed daily siestas, cigarettes, and multiple cups of coffee a day. Pasta and pizza represented the main form of sustenance, and groceries were purchased nearly every day to ensure their freshness. My exposure to the Italian way of life thus enabled me to see the different customs and traditions of the Italian people on a very intimate level.
My Italian proficiency also advanced a great deal during my time in Italy. I had studied Italian for a year prior to my semester in Rome. I was thus able to use and practice my language skills on a daily basis with the locals while also studying Italian at the university I was attending. The ability to finally use my Italian in a practical way was very rewarding, and my experience enabled me to become more passionate about the language.
The fact that I had the opportunity to meet individuals from different countries was one of my favorite parts of my experience in Rome. My classes were extremely diverse, and I feel that my education was furthered as a result. I believe that meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds can greatly increase one’s knowledge base of how the world as a whole operates and thus, can make each of us more insightful and wiser. My experience has enabled me to increase my worldview and gain friends from all over the world.
I truly enjoyed the time I had in Italy and only wish that I could have stayed longer. In the future, I plan to pursue a Master’s degree in International Studies. My semester in Italy helped verify that this is an area I am extremely interested in. I am very thankful that my sponsors saw fit to provide the financial assistance that enabled me to have this wonderful opportunity. My experience was far greater than I imagined it to be, and I know that I will never forget it.
Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences - Fall 2010
I spent the past few weeks trotting around the East Coast from home to home. Nothing new for me, since it’d been several years since I’ve had a real permanent home, a place that felt like home, or a place that at least was called home. I’ve taken the majority of those weeks to relax, get re-acclimated with the American culture, and to stare at the blank document with this essay in it. I’ve tried several ways to start it too, all attempts ended badly. I had no words on my fingertips to use, I had no thoughts in my head to convey. Now as I sit here, late at night, finally settled in at what I hope will become ‘home’ in the future, I think I can write something.
I remember the first time one of my professors brought up Italy to me. We were in the middle of a deep conversation, talking about love, life, problems and the stress that these things cause, when suddenly she looked at me and said: “You know, you should go to Italy. They’ll teach you to loosen up a little!”
I stared at her like she’d grown three heads. How could a culture teach me to loosen up? She went on to explain about how everything is much more relaxed in Italy, and how they all apparently think American’s are insane for the workload that they keep. To be frank I had originally wanted to go to Ireland (mostly because I’m enchanted with the idea of fae and the other myths there), but the more we talked about the warm weather, the fun people, and the prospect of relaxing a little the more I thought that Italy might be the right choice to make.
So I set about the complicated process of finding a program that was right for me. It would have to have the right classes, the right schedule, the right faculty and staff and, of course, the right price. Since my school didn’t have any study abroad program itself (it’s much too small), I was on my own. This wasn’t anything I hadn’t been used to though, so while the prospects were daunting and my adviser was skeptical about me going to a country where I didn’t speak a wit of the language, I plugged onward. Eventually I came across SAI; it was the opportunity to go to Sicily that sealed the deal.
That started my journey.
I’ll skip all the boring technical stuff and get right to the interesting part. The beginning. The flight to Sicily. It was my first flight on my own, my first flight out of the country, my first time figuring out money on my own without other people to tell me how or why to spend it, my first time calling the shots on my own… like any modern young adult faced with this sudden and exciting freedom, I was terrified. In fact, I do believe I cried more than half the way across the ocean and into Italy before I was dazzled by the view. Islands of clouds in the sky, cities sprawled like spun gold spider webs on the dark mat of the earth, mountains of purple and blue raising out of mist and silver water twining to the larger stretches of water beyond, a pink and purple sunrise chasing the mist away and setting the clouds on fire. The view from that first trip will never be forgotten. By that point I was too busy dreaming about dragons and dashing Italian Noblemen to even consider crying.
This, I remember thinking to myself, this is the beginning. This is it. This is what’s going to get me going, this is what is going to bring me somewhere, being here is just the beginning. After this who knows what will happen? I was filled with excitement and apprehension; I was as unsure of myself as a newborn foal being pushed to walk on its own legs. Almost immediately after my first initial excitement about the trip I experienced a sudden and intense feeling of dread. What was I doing? I was halfway around the world, farther from my family than I had ever been in my life, and I was completely, totally, entirely on my own.
And then the plane touched down in Sicily. I looked out the window with wide, apprehensive eyes and an interesting thought popped into my head. I’m home. Okay, that sounds awfully cheesy, but it’s true. For the first time in my life I looked at a land and automatically connected. I was more than enchanted. I was comforted, awed. While some people might have been disappointed in the dusty brown landscape that greeted us, I saw endless possibilities and felt a sort of familiarity with the land, the area, the people… That wouldn’t change, even if I couldn’t speak the language, and that perhaps has the biggest impression on me to this day. The first feeling I got when we landed in Sicily is something I’ll never forget.
But that wasn’t the only impressive thing I saw. There was always something that pulled me when we went on our field trips. The ones organized by the classes or the programs, it didn’t matter. But as soon as we stepped foot into the bus I’d put in my headphones and stare out the window. While others crashed into semi-restful sleep I would stare at the landscape as it moved and folded and changed around me and I would think, not just of the things I was seeing, but of how it might have looked to my ancestors as they first walked along the valleys and hills and long expanses of rolling hills. And then to see the things that my ancestors had actually built? There are no words.
Now, I’ve always fancied myself a bit of an archaeologist. Not a professional one, of course, but with the amount of documentaries and ancient history shows that I watch I should be an expert in ancient Egyptian culture at least. To be honest, ancient Greek and Roman civilization never interested me – mostly because everyone else raved about it. So many other people were fascinated with the culture that I found myself put out and put off, but that feeling didn’t last for very long in Sicily. Taking one step into an ancient ruin, touching the stones that people touched thousands of years before hand, being able to envision the world that the ancient people lived in; it doesn’t matter what culture it’s from, the history of every land is something to be studied and appreciated. I learned that my love for history stretches to everything ancient, not just the cultures that aren’t appreciated. The mystery of the ancient civilizations pulled me in like nothing else and gave me something to look forward to, something to explore. Without the scholarship, without this program, I never would’ve been able to see such amazing things.
It wasn’t just the history that fascinated me either (though I could definitely be fine with just history clouding my sight); the people who lived in Sicily opened my eyes to a whole new meaning for community. Never before had I been in a place that was so focused on community, and while it was intimidating at first to not know the language, I learned that there is more to language than just the words spoken—especially in Sicily! The people brought me in warmly and encouraged me, whether it was to speak their language or to try something new and while sometimes I was terrified I was able to overcome that fear. After all, had I not crossed an entire ocean on my own? How frightening could walking around at night by myself be?
Through the semester I not only saw amazing things, but I experienced amazing changes. I have always been the most cautious person of my friends. I walk carefully, head down, to be sure that I don’t trip on any cracks in the road. I keep a sharp eye on everyone and everything, searching for suspicious characters. I don’t go out. I don’t get drunk. I don’t smoke. I never took risks, even if I was able to climb a mountain just to get to the top. I learned, in laid back Sicily, that life wasn’t about being as safe as possible at all times. There was so much more to life than just sitting around and watching it pass. To be able to experience things means to take chances. To go out and do things. To explore and learn, even if one is exploring on their own. And so I did. I went out and I explored, I combed Siracusa from the top to the bottom, during the day and at night; I wandered into the ocean and across rocks, I climbed walls and trees and attempted to climb fences. I explored places again and again to find things that I was looking for, or things that I didn’t know existed. I browsed through other cities and ran my hands over ancient inscriptions, I explored the corners and highest spots of every place we went. Essentially, I had freedom. I had a freedom in Sicily that I’ve never had before. A freedom of spirit and soul and mind. With this freedom I was able to learn how to relax. I learned that most Americans are exactly as my teacher portrayed them. Walking balls of stress, and the simple four months away in Sicily did wonders for my mood, my life, my stress… for once I was able to think clearly.
The problem with this essay is that there is no real way to put into words what I experienced so that the people reading it can understand what I’m trying to say. The easy way out of this essay would be to write everything, logically, coldly, to lay everything out in a practical way about how the scholarship helped but the reality is much more complex than that. There is nothing solid, no one thing that I can say the [scholarship] went to specifically. It didn’t buy the trip to the Aeolian Islands, it didn’t go specifically to the house, it was spread out among the entire semester. It had its fingers dabbled in many things, in many adventures, in many learning experiences. And so, that’s why this paper was so difficult for me to write.
I’m supposed to write about how [a scholarship] helped me during my time in Sicily, during this semester you’ve read about. To be honest, there is no way to put a specific reason or helping hand or happening on that number. I could say that [the scholarship] helped feed me (entirely true), I could say it helped me get to a place I never thought I’d ever go, that it helped me explore my culture, my homeland, that it helped me find myself. All of those are true; I could rewrite everything I’ve already written with the stamp ‘it was this scholarship that helped with that’ behind each one because the truth is that this scholarship didn’t just help me with one or two things. It helped me with everything. This scholarship helped me survive, it gave me courage and it gave me something to strive towards. This scholarship was more than just a helping hand, it was a trampoline with so much bounce it shot me towards that star I’m reaching for and gave me the opportunity to grasp it. This scholarship not only gave me the ability to see and do everything in this essay, it helped give me a view on the world I never thought I’d have, it helped me grow up, it gave me a light, it gave me my life back.
So, somehow, the scholarship...became priceless. Thank you.
Apicius International School of Hospitality - Spring 2011
I have just completed my semester abroad in Florence, Italy. While there, I attended Apicius International School of Hospitality. I chose to participate in their free elective program so that I was able to choose the classes I was most interested in. Aside from the mandatory Beginning Italian Language class, I also chose Creative Cuisine, Chocolate Confections, Breads of Italy and Cooking Light. I was most impressed and intrigued by my Cooking Light class taught by Andrea Trapini. The molecular and chemical compounds we used to create many of our dishes were fascinating. I was equally awed by Andrea Bianchini’s Chocolate Confections class. He is truly an amazing chocolatier and his work is flawless.
Florence is a beautiful city, filled with so much history and incredible architecture. My favorite place in Florence is Piazzale Michelangelo. After climbing over 100 steps, you reach a point that overlooks the entire city. It is most beautiful at sunrise or sunset and a very popular place shared my locals and tourists.
Being a culinary student, I felt it was my job to search out all the great food shops during my time abroad. You’ll never go hungry in a city like Florence because food surrounds you at every corner. Whether it’s the gelato, the pizza, the pasta, or the ever famous waffle slathered with delicious Nutella, food is abundant anywhere in Italy. My favorite pizzeria is on the south side of the river and about a 30 minute walk from my apartment. A restaurant only known by locals, Pizzeria Antica Porta has the most delicious, thin, crispy, fresh pizza you’ll ever eat. If you’re looking for a fun atmosphere and an amazing house made sparkling white wine that keeps on flowing, I loved Dante’s. Their food is delicious and reasonably priced. I especially loved their flat bread and spaghetti with seafood. My hands down favorite gelato shop is Gelateria Neri. It was right down the street from my house and open very late.
Being able to study abroad was an amazing experience I will never forget. I am so blessed and thankful to have had this opportunity and have been in a country known for its incredible food. Had I not received the scholarship, the chances of me being able to study abroad would have decreased drastically. I hope that other students will be able to experience the wonderful things that an adventure abroad brings.
Apicius International School of Hospitality - Spring 2011
Time of my life, memories I will never forget, new best friends, amazing sites, new experiences, irreplaceable photos, and much more are all things that come to mind when I think of my time spent in Italy this past spring of 2011. A few years back when I would tell my family and friends I wanted to study abroad, they didn’t believe I could handle it- being away for 4 months, paying the prices, being in a new place, etc., but none of their comments could make me change my goal to go abroad. I wanted that dream to turn into a reality and I made sure it did. Before getting on the plane to go to Madrid before Florence, I felt like I had “pre-wedding jitters” and didn’t want to go anymore. However, I told myself I could do it, I could handle it, everything would be fine. In the beginning it was a bit of a rough adjustment as it was a whole new place and different language, but I didn’t want to let that keep me from enjoying my time abroad. I came into SAI without knowing anyone at all and I only spoke with my roommate for 1 week before leaving via e-mail. I was not that nervous not knowing anyone, because I knew I probably wouldn’t be the only person. Also, that’s what I wanted to do- know no one so I could make many new friends. The second weekend when SAI took half of the program to Rome, I made friends with 3 girls. Over the course of the next week, the 3 other friends I had made before Rome and the new 3 all became my best friends over the next few months. By the time we left, the 7 of us all agreed we felt as if we had been lifelong friends and didn’t know what we would do without each other. I am so thankful that I met the 6 of them especially because over the course of the rest of the semester, we traveled to many different places together. Overall, I went to over 20 cities either in Italy or in Austria or Dublin. I had 3 trips I HAD to go on before leaving and I was able to make it to all 3 of them, as well as to so many other places. I will never forget the amazing scenery, history, sites, people, lessons I learned, and food. I felt so blessed being able to go to so many places, as so many people are unable to travel like I did or even study abroad in general. I will never regret having chosen SAI or the choice to study abroad in Florence. Being in Florence, I felt I was able to experience so many things people probably could not do elsewhere in Italy or in any other country. I felt that having to learn a different language and adapt to a completely different culture than America made my experience so much better and was a great learning experience. Also, I was able to travel so much more than my friends studying abroad in other countries. The SAI staff was incredible and I was extremely pleased with their promptness of return e-mails and phone calls. They were all very on top of things and I was incredibly pleased with their overall service in Florence and back when I was still getting ready to leave in America. The price of SAI was very expensive compared to other programs, but the trips and other things added in the program made me okay with choosing SAI knowing I would be making memories that would last me forever. I thoroughly enjoyed the baking class I took, as well as my other 3 hospitality classes and beginning Italian course. My teachers were all very nice and helpful as well. Looking back on my time abroad, I can’t believe how fast it went. I will never forget anything about the whole amazing experience I had. I now encourage everyone I know and meet to study abroad. Yes, the costs may be pricey, but they are costs people should never regret. My parents helped me a little bit, but mainly I am the one who paid for the whole experience- taking out loans and working many hours a week to cover the expenses. I am very proud of that fact and will never regret it. Study abroad was just a dream a few years ago and I still can’t believe it became a reality. The whole experience overall was a dream come true and I can honestly say I had the time of my life! When people ask me how my time abroad was, I simply tell them I can’t put into words how truly fantastic it really was!
Florence University of the Arts - Spring 2011
Simply enough, studying abroad in Florence, Italy would not have been possible without the kindness and generosity shown to me through the SAI scholarship I received. As a result of the financial challenges my family has been facing, studying abroad was not an option upon entering my freshman year of college. I spent many nights sitting down with my checkbook, counting every penny earned after a hard day balancing school, work, and extra curricular activities. When decision time came, I thought about how scared I was to leave my friends and family and spend four months not earning any money, but I also knew that I deserved the experience.
After hearing about the scholarship opportunities with SAI, I began to believe there would be a way. I had worked hard for something, and it turns out that hard work paid off beyond my wildest imagination. With the aid I received from SAI, I was able to spend less time thinking about making ends meet, and more time enjoying myself fully in Italy, and even traveling to Ireland, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, and France along the way!
Finally, I felt like the college kid I could not let myself be before. I had spent so much time before worrying about helping my family pay the bills and playing “mom” to my sisters, that I never truly took the time to myself to truly enjoy simple things, like “Ah dolce far niente”, the sweetness of doing nothing, for example. Of course I kept busy though, staying true to my active self. I was able to volunteer at two gyms promoting and teaching fitness classes, teaching children English at a local daycare in the city center, and baking American baked goods to give me a little piece of home while abroad.
I cannot believe that I can no longer walk one minute from my house to sit in the sun on the steps of Santa Croce, enjoying life for even its smallest blessings. Yet, I also learned how to miss home, and so much more about myself than I ever knew I would. Looking back on it now, the experience was absolutely surreal, and something I will never forget. My experience meant far more to me than what can be captured in a short essay, but was without a doubt, the best experience I’ve ever had. I would like to thank SAI and the donors of the scholarships for giving me the most unbelievable adventure I’ve ever been on. Now that it has happened, I cannot imagine what my life would have been without the experience.
Florence University of the Arts - Spring 2011
Florence, Italy: A place I can now truly call one of my homes. The best four months of my life by far and I couldn’t have done it without the extraordinary help from SAI’s scholarship. I immediately knew from the day I went to freshman orientation at the [home university] I was going to study abroad. Three years later I found myself stepping off a plane onto another continent that I would call my home for the next four months of my life. Having been my first time out of the United States, I had my hesitations, but SAI was there every step of the way ensuring I was taken care of and tended to each and everyday. I now like to think of myself as a world traveler having been to Morocco, Spain, and Greece, but without the tremendous help and efforts displayed by SAI and their incredible staff, none of that would have been possible. I thank SAI both in the States as well as in Italy and will urge every student I encounter who is contemplating studying abroad to look into SAI and tell them how SAI has changed my life forever. Thank you SAI. Without your financial support, none of this would have been possible.
Florence University of the Arts - Spring 2011
The time abroad in Italy was life changing and this is all thanks to the Study Abroad Italy Scholarship Committee. Without the financial help to physically get to Italy I wouldn’t have had the chance to grow as a person both in my education and emotionally. This was a once and a lifetime experience and I am so glad that I was able to go and experience a new culture that would make a lasting impact in my future.
The SAI program did so much for me in the way of getting me acclimated and settled into my new home abroad. My experience with the staff was very close from emailing Annie King, my school representative for Study Abroad Italy, before my trip, to meeting Alessandra and Camilla, the Italy staff, upon my arrival. The staff did a great job of answering my needs and being there every step of the way. In Italy I got really sick and while in the hospital both Alessandra and Camilla stayed close me through every step of my recovery. They interpreted for me and the doctors and they were where there as much as they could. I really appreciate the staff and all the support they gave to me through this experience.
On a less sentimentally note I was able to travel many places and see the world and what different cultures have to offer. I loved seeing that my American view was sometimes skewed when it came to people and different cultures. I found out that I was quit wrong on the stereotypes I created from my naivety at home. I witness a world around me that was different, not bad, but different at times. It is hard not to think that the people I were living amongst weren’t weird but I found myself repeating in my head what Alessandra said the first day. She said, “Do not try to change the culture to fit yours but embrace the differences and live with the weirdness, you will come to find that we are no longer weird but we are specially unique.” Once I embraced these differences I was able to not try to fit them into my American view but to let them be who they are.
My education was another important reason why I am so thankful for the scholarship. I am an interior design major at [home university] and by going to Italy I learned different design aspects I would have never explored if I didn’t study abroad. I would have never had the chance to learn the design I did without learning from Italian professors design techniques from other countries. I expanded my way of thinking and broaden my view of ordinary design and going abroad has now shaped my thinking for my designs at home. My education was a huge determining factor to go abroad and I am so glad I got the chance to see and learn all I could in Italy.
I was able to see France, Germany, Austria and most of all Italy because of the financial blessing that was giving to me for my tuition. I can’t thank the study abroad scholarship committee enough for giving me this chance to see the world and live in another country. I have gained much and I will never let what I experience abroad go. I am so passionate about other cultures now it has inspired me to do more where I live here in the states. Thank you.
Florence University of the Arts - Spring 2011
I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you for my SAI scholarship. Without it, I would not have been able to spend the most amazing four months of my life in Italy. Italy changed me. It allowed me to take in and experience another culture and a different way of life. In Italy I had to do things a little bit differently than I would have in America. I had to drag my luggage up a few flights of stairs instead of taking an elevator. I went to the Sant’Ambrogio Market every week to buy fresh fruit, veggies, and my favorite, fresh pasta instead of shopping at the store. I had to speak only Italian sometimes to communicate with people, and lastly I had to walk everywhere I went. That was new for me. I’m from Texas, we don’t walk anywhere! I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for the world. It was character building for me. I used to shop at the grocery store and I never walked anywhere if I didn’t have to. Now I only buy fresh fruits and veggies and I walk all the time. I know my friends are getting tired of me asking to walk everywhere we go.
It would be a terrible crime if I didn’t mention how much I loved the bellissima città di Firenze! Io amo Firenze. Firenze is such a wonderful city to live in. It is small but it is full of art, history, and fun! Michelangelo’s David is there and so it Botticelli’s Birth of Venus! I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to finally see the works of art that I have been learning about since high school. I love art, so seeing David was a huge moment for me. It made all the studying during high school mean something.
This experience also gave me the opportunity to make some of the best friends I have ever had. When you make a study abroad friend, it’s a different kind of friendship. These are people who went off with me into the unknown. We experienced new and different things together, we traveled the world together. No matter how far apart we are, we will always be friends. I will treasure the friendships I have made for the rest of my life.
Thank you sponsors. I appreciate my scholarship more than you know. I can never really verbalize how much this experience has changed me, made me a better person. I know if I hadn’t gotten my scholarship I never would have been able to experience Italy. Thank you so much for allowing me to have the most amazing, life changing semester in Italy.
John Cabot University - Spring 2011
I recently finished my third year at [home university]. I studied abroad through the Study Abroad Italy Program in Rome in Spring 2011 and am writing to express my thanks for the financial support.
In November of 2010, surrounded by forms and instruction sheets explaining what my time abroad would be like, I received an email informing me that I was awarded a scholarship to be used while studying in Rome. I cannot express my gratitude enough and how that one gift changed my experience through the Study Abroad Italy Program in Rome. It allowed me to explore the spectacular ancient city, travel to other countries in Europe, and savor my time abroad even more.
With the financial contribution I was able to open myself up to the city of Rome and Italy. I not only took advantage of the trips organized by the Study Abroad Italy office, but planned day trips and went to museums and shops on my own time. One of my most memorable weekends was when I went to Tuscany and visited the small towns of Sovana and Pitigliano. The program booked a retreat center with hot springs for the group of SAI students to enjoy. I learned a lot on the trip that I would not have discovered on my own, and of course delighted in such delicious cuisine. That weekend I also made friendships that developed throughout the semester.
Apart from the diverting ancient monuments and rich culture of Rome are the other incredible countries to visit in Europe. The gift that I was awarded allowed me to travel to other destinations like Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, and Istanbul. Each of the cities shone in their own unique ways; I was able to wander in parks, go to museums, eat traditional foods, and buy souvenirs for friends and family. My time was spent admiring the culture and liveliness of a world I never knew. The trip that made the most significant impression was to Istanbul, Turkey. The melding of East and West was fascinating. I walked through mosques and markets, tasted traditional dishes, and learned about the Turkish culture. The trip even went on a ferry ride to the coast of Asia! All of these experiences in Europe would not have been possible without the support of the scholarship that I received.
Finally, on a smaller scale, the financial aid helped me to savor my time abroad. From going to a newly-discovered restaurant, to trying a different flavor of gelato, the contribution allowed me to make a little bit go a long way. It helped me to buy weekly groceries and supplies for my art classes as well. Knowing that I could budget my resources was reassuring. Unfortunately my family was unable to help me financially, but my hard work the previous summer would have given me enough to live comfortably over the semester. The scholarship was a gift that went above and beyond; it gave me the opportunity to do much more with my time abroad.
I am indebted to the amazing generosity and support that the Study Abroad Italy Scholarship Committee awarded me and the sponsors that contributed to making my experience a possibility. I will cherish the memories of my living and traveling abroad because it continues to help me grow and change!
John Cabot University - Summer 2011
When I decided that I wanted to study abroad I was faced with two large dilemmas: Where would I go and how would I pay for it. Being a Classics Major, the Where was not nearly as hard as the How. I am one of three siblings and that, in combination with the present economic times, made studying in Rome a difficult expense. I really did not want the burden to lie solely on my parents and so was very grateful when I received a scholarship from the generous donors of Study Abroad Italy.
During my stay in Rome I visited monuments, ruins, and museums I had only been able to experience in books and class lectures at the [home university]. The Coliseum, Roman Forum, Capitoline Museums, and much more completely inspired me. My experience in Rome was a strong affirmation that my choice in major was absolutely right for me. The Vatican and its museum also swept me off my feet with its monumental design and vast array of Medieval, Renaissance, and Classical art.
In addition, the incredible staff at Study Abroad Italy was devoted to making sure we students got the most out of our Roman experience. Their advice, aid, and lessons gave me a deeper understanding of the foreign city and I quickly became very comfortable with navigating around Rome. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of going to Rome through SAI was the fact that I was able to stay in a real Italian apartment in the center of Rome. Instead of feeling like a tourist, I felt like a resident of Rome for a short while. The close friendships that came about with fellow SAI students—because of the program’s smaller size—were also an amazing perk to the program. We were a diverse group from all over the U.S. and still keep in touch.
Whether it was for the furthering of my academic career or the amazing expansion of my life experience, my studies in Rome undoubtedly changed me for the better. I cannot express how thankful I am that the donors, Study Abroad Italy, and John Cabot University actively worked with me to facilitate my trip to Rome.
Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences - Summer 2011
I wanted to take this time to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your aid in what I will forever call the best month and a half of my life. This past summer I used my scholarship to take an Italian Language Intensive for six weeks on the beautiful island of Sicily, in the quaint town of Ortigia. During my time there I was lucky enough to take some wonderful trips to places such as: Mount Etna, Catania, Palermo, Taormina, and the Aeolian Islands. Those six weeks spent in these places changed my life in many ways.
One of my roommates, whom I was randomly placed with, has now become one of my best friends. I honestly don’t know how I lived 18 years of my life without her. I go to school at the [home university] and she is about to graduate from [home university]. Since being back in America, we have visited each other multiple times; still six months later we talk daily about what we loved about Italy and how we wish we could go back. I did not only become close with her but with the dozens of other students that were studying at the same school, my Italian neighbors, and Italians that we met around town. I made friendships that I know will last for a lifetime, and I never would’ve been able to do that without your help.
Besides expanding my friend group, being in Italy made me a lot more independent and confident. I go to school nine hours away from my home in Pennsylvania, so I always considered myself pretty independent but I didn’t know the true meaning until I was across the globe unable to contact my friends and family at home whenever I wanted. However it did not bother me one bit because I was in the most beautiful place I’d ever been, going on adventures, meeting people from different countries, and trying to perfect a language I had only practiced in an American classroom. At times I would jokingly complain that my brain hurt because it took a lot of effort to just tell the man at the sandwich shop what I wanted on my panini, but now I would give anything to be back there.
As an International Business major with an Italian minor, this trip was beneficial not only for my personal life but for my academic life as well. In respect to my minor, being surround by Italian not only in the classroom but also in every aspect of my day, helped perfect the language for me. I always knew I wanted to practice business in Italy (although their economy isn’t so wonderful right now) and being there for the short amount of time that I was, only confirmed those dreams for me.
The best part of the experience for me was getting to see where my family was from. My family is from a small town called Giarre, about an hour north of Siracusa. I always knew that we were considered a very “traditional” Italian family but being in Sicily felt just like being home. I finally understood why my family was so loud, such great cooks, so affectionate, and so proud to be Italian.
I could go on for days about my trip, and please know that you have helped make my dreams come true. I fell so in love with Italy that I am spending this entire upcoming semester in Florence. I am also so blessed because at the end of my semester, my father will be joining me and we are going back to our beautiful homeland of Sicily and I will get to be the tour guide this time. I hope someday that I will be able to aid other students in seeing the world because it is without a doubt the best life-changing experience I have had. The travel bug has bitten me, and I can’t thank you enough for it!