Studying, Eating, and Living The Italian Culture Past Review

By (Italian, Elementary Education, Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/31/2012 to 12/14/2012 with

Arcadia: ISI Perugia - The Umbra Institute

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to be more outgoing and not let any experience slip away. I became more independent, more proficient in Italian, and met some of the most amazing people I know.

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.

A lot of the course content was interesting and engaging, but I wouldn't exactly call them rigorous or intense. If you are interested in the subject matter, you will learn.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff was always available at school or by phone at night to answer any questions from how to buy a train ticket, how to use the tiny Italian washing machines, or how to get a doctor over when I had a sudden allergic reaction in the middle of the night. I have to take away one star though as some were less helpful than others..

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartments were beautiful and right in the city center! Many of the apartments lack some of the comforts of home most of us were used to, but living in the middle of everything made it easy to adapt.

* Food:

Anyone that has studied Italy or italian has learned about Italy's regional diversity. This means that Umbria has its own style of cooking and restaurants typically serve all regional specialties all the time. Luckily this involves incredible homemade pastas and the freshest produce I have ever tasted. However, it admittedly starts to taste a bit boring by the last month.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since students generally live with other Americans, integrating into the culture was a bit tough. Especially for students that didn't speak much Italian or were shy about speaking to natives. I would recommend going to Tandem and putting in the effort to meet Italians. Perugia is a city full of students and you will undoubtedly run into people you met, and in my experience they're always happy to go get a coffee or chat in the center for a while. Umbra also always has some Italian students mixed into classes-talk to them! Invite them out for an aperitivo or ask them to help you with your Italian homework. The locals know all the best places to eat and relax in town and are talking to them is one of the best ways to practice your Italian!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

As mentioned above, i had an allergic reaction while I was abroad. I was able to contact a staff member who helped me get a doctor to make a house call and administer medicine. The Italian health care system is certainly a bit different from what I am used to at home and not all of the doctors speak English. There were a couple times that I felt I was left on my own a bit more then I would have liked because I knew how to speak Italian, so I would recommend not hesitating to ask a staff member to walk you through whatever you need.

* Safety:

Perugia is a city so there are some obvious safety concerns. However, the municipality has been taking huge initiative to clean up Perugia and make it a lively, friendly, and safe city. Don't walk home alone at night and don't leave your doors/windows open. That being said, don't be afraid or feel unsafe. Explore by yourself during the day. Perugia is full of friendly locals who are always happy to point you in the right direction.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100 euro
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Groceries are pretty cheap so living on a budget isn't hard...but it is also hard to live on a budget when you are surrounded by amazing food that doesn't seem that much more expensive. Plan what restaurants you want to go to and maybe designate one night a week to try a new place, It really isn't that expensive to eat out, especially if you only order a primo piatto and share house wine with friends. Be wary of cover charges and always ask the staff for recommendations. Look for farmer's markets, the produce is amazing and SO cheap. As for souvenirs/clothing/etc. don't limit yourself too much, but also remember that anything you buy has to go back in your suitcase. Perugia has some great shopping, but I think most students would agree that money is better spent on food and travel. Stores will have a couple of big sales a year ( usually around the end of summer and leading up to the holidays) , so look out for those!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Professors
  • Community Engagement Programs
  • The Location!
* What could be improved?
  • events to promote meeting locals
  • technology (document sharing, email responsiveness etc)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Brandeis offers this program to students who have taken two semesters of Italian, I thought this applied to all Umbra students but in reality about 70% of students were complete beginners. However in retrospect maybe it's better i didn't know this, since it may have swayed my decision and I wouldn't have had the amazing experience that I is definitely something to be aware of though.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Racconto Italiano

Course Department:
Instructor: Francesco Gardeghni
Instruction Language: Italian
Comments: A really amazing course. Prof. Gardeghni is an amazing teacher and my Italian speaking and comprehension skills improved far beyond my expectations. A lot of students were hesitant to take this course since it is the only one taught in Italian. If you have any background with speaking Italian I would say to absolutely take it, it's worth the push!
Credit Transfer Issues: