Perugia: il mio amore piccolissimo. Past Review

By (English Honors, The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 05/18/2012 to 06/30/2012 with

Arcadia: ISI Perugia - The Umbra Institute

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I've said it once, and I'll say it again: my six weeks in Perugia were the best of my entire life. If I could drop everything and leave tomorrow for my little Italian apartment, I would. My career plan has even shifted to accomodate my return - I'm thinking about teaching English there after graduation. You'll be surprised how much you fall in love with a place; but in Perugia, it's hardly a surprise at all.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Although the courses offered over the summer were interesting, they were not intensive at all. Most students in the program were able to travel at will and stay out all night - and receive A's on the assignments they completed last-minute. The information is wonderful and I enjoyed my courses (creative writing and photography), but they were hardly as rigorous as my home institution.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Umbra Institute was a constant resource and managed every student with personal attention.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

For my program, students stayed in landlord managed apartments throughout the city. Our landlord spoke little English, so my knowledge of the Italian language was an asset! But once the formalities of move-in were over, our apartment living was wonderful. Our building was from the late sixteenth century and our furnishings spanned from the late nineteenth century to about 1960. We hung-dry our laundry (just like Italians!) and learned to deal with no air-conditioning. It's an experience!

* Food:

Perugia is a fantastic resource for Italian food. I gained ten pounds without breaking a sweat. Many of the larger cities try to pass off Americanized versions, but Perugia is dotted with small family-owned markets that specialize in salume or formaggio. Try everything! (Especially Giuliano's off Corso Vannucci).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Being an Italian speaker, I plunged right into the city's culture. I met all sorts of Italians and had experiences that were life-changing. There were times when I felt I belonged in Perugia more than at home in the States.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any health issues while on the program, nor was I aware of any city-wide or country-wide health issues. There were no required vaccines.

* Safety:

Perugia is a college town and kids really know how to party. That being said, the typical concerns of a post-weekend night come to mind. However, the program offers a safety introductory lecture on the specifics of Italian culture and crime that is very useful. I never felt in danger, and I spent many mornings, afternoons and nights walking around the city alone.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Italy is expensive. That's that. However: it depends on how you spend your money. Many students use all their resources to travel outside of Perugia, but I would recommend staying local when possible. You'll find better food, great people and hidden treasures in town that cost three times as much at tourist destinations.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $250
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't be intimidated to shop at grocery stores and cook at your apartment! Eating out, while delicious, should probably be an indulgence you afford once or twice a day. Eating one meal (and snacks) at home per day will save you a lot in the long run, and will challenge you culturally. One of the things I miss the most about Perugia is ordering my meats, cheeses and bread from individual shops. Enjoy the difference from home!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • I adored being able to speak the language daily. No one tells you how much you can learn simply by interacting with locals!
  • The food was absolutely divine. Gelato three times a day, and the old man serving will call me "his beloved treasure"? Sign me up.
  • Perugia as a city is unbeatable. It has all the old-world charm of traditional Europe, and the feel of a small town. You literally see the same people on the street every day, and they wave at you. Perfection!
* What could be improved?
  • Communication: I know several students thought our first day on the program was going to be in Rome (where we got picked up). Not so. We traveled three hours by charter bus (after plane rides of hellacious lengths) just to arrive at our hotel in Perugia.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had been aware of how much traveling to other European cities would cost. Everyone says it's unbelievably cheap, but that wasn't my experience. I spent more in one day in Rome or Florence than I would have in four in Perugia (not even including housing).

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'