a challenge that was ultimately very worth it Past Review

By (Arcadia University) - abroad from 01/07/2016 to 04/29/2016 with

Arcadia: ISI Perugia - The Umbra Institute

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a sense of independence and confidence from having to do things that I previously thought I couldn't do. It was absolutely worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

It wasn't rigorous by any means, but that's pretty typical of a study abroad program for a reason - they know that you're not here for the academic side of things so much as to explore the city and country. If you're looking for academic rigor, you can certainly take classes that will be more reading-heavy, but for the most part these classes won't take up too much of your free time. There is a library in the building as well as teachers and staff who care about your well-being.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My apartment was new and small, made only for two people, and it worked well for the two of us. Housing in Perugia is a gamble - our wifi, shower, kitchen, etc. was great, but for many people, they shared wifi with a whole building (15+ people) and the quality of the apartments varied greatly. Nothing was truly unbearable as far as I could tell though, and as long as you're prepared for that, you'll be fine. Just a quick note about heating, too: in Italy the government regulates that you can only use 7 hours of heat per 24 hour period. Some apartments were able to choose when those hours would be during the day but others were regulated by landlords. Just bring lots of sweatshirts and sweatpants.

* Food:

It's completely self-catered, Umbra doesn't serve food at all, but this is Italy. Great markets and food are everywhere. There's a big grocery store (American sized) that you'll be taken to during week one as part of Intensive Italian Week. It's a bit of a jaunt but during the week you can easily stock up on what you need at the smaller grocery stores around town. There's also a big Saturday morning market just outside of town that has really great fruits and veggies and meats.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This depends on who you are - Umbra gives plenty of opportunity to integrate with the culture in Perugia through Tandem language exchange and by having Italian students take classes at Umbra. If you take advantage of these opportunities and go out to pubs and clubs with the Italian students you meet, then you can feel very integrated with the community of students in Perugia. Basically you get what you put into it.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

While I didn't personally have any health issues that weren't easily solved at the pharmacy, I did know a few people who got sick and the staff helped them out with finding doctors and medicine. There aren't any vaccines needed nor are there any health issues that are unusual.

* Safety:

Perugia is just as safe as any other city. It's a big student town and especially on weekend nights I felt perfectly safe walking around because there were so many other students out. As long as you're aware of your surroundings you should be fine. The usual precautions are necessary here though - don't share cigarettes, don't leave your drink unattended, walk around at night with a friend, etc.

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

This program pushed me out of my comfort zone into a language and culture I didn't understand. At times I was homesick and uncomfortable, but after the initial stress, I realized that Italy - Perugia, specifically - were exactly where I needed to be.


* 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)

Food was pretty inexpensive in Perugia. Traveling was where most of my money went.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100/week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try not to eat out too much, even though this is Italy and it'll be tempting. When taking trips, stay in hostels and airbnbs. Just try to budget out how much you have to spend on food - you can easily survive on 50 euros a week for food - and then you'll know how much you have left for trips. Travel with other people so you can split room costs at your destination, and plus, it's way more fun.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Taking Italian class every day in Italian, not English, was really difficult but ultimately rewarding. I went in with zero Italian knowledge and by the end I could communicate well enough to have (simple) conversations with local Italians.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I didn't take Italian before departure
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Just use it as much as you can. Don't be afraid to make small talk at the grocery store or sandwich shop. People are understanding and they'll help you when you're searching for words and cheer you on when you remember them. Take advantage of Tandem to actually speak Italian to local students. Read the newspapers and watch the news in Italian as well.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the staff and professors
  • the Italian training
  • the extra opportunities to eat free pizza, go on outings, and explore perugia
* What could be improved?
  • certain professors were better than others but that's to be expected
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Before going on the program I didn't expect to make lasting friendships with Italians or American students. At first I didn't even try, because I knew they went to different colleges so I knew that it would end up becoming long-distance. In the end I made a great group of friends who I'm still in constant contact with. I wish I'd known that I should open myself up to friendships earlier on. Study abroad friends are some of the closest friends you'll ever make beause you're both in an uncomfortable situation together.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.