The city that changed my reality Past Review

By (Benedictine College) - abroad from 09/03/2014 to 11/14/2014 with

Benedictine College: Florence - Semester Program in Florence, Italy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained confidence in who I am, where I can go, who I can meet and how I can interact with those people, in asking questions, in not being afraid to go below the surface of a person, and in pushing myself to really learn all I can. I gained confidence in my faith - this is where I stopped accepting the faith as something I was brought up in, and instead made it my own - I decided that I was going to actually BE a Catholic, and to not be complacent. I learned what kind of friends I want to have, and where I feel the most at home, whether it's in a city or in the mountains. I don't know how else to say it except I grew as a person. My friends and I always laugh about what if we hadn't gone, and spent fall semester at Benedictine, acting how we did as freshman - I am so.grateful. that didn't happen.... I came back feeling like an adult and not a child.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I loved the way we learned Italian!! We were able to retain it so much more by going out into the city than by sitting in the same room all day. It made the language way more real, and inspired us to actually want to learn it because we really did need it. We had Dunleavy has our teacher and he did a great job working with us and teaching us about what the cultural symbols meant - and it tied in wonderfully with Francesco's history class!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Giovanni was a true host as well as the rest of the Villa Morghen staff. Pietro was definitely the best host I've ever been a guest of.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

There were issues with things being stolen from various rooms, I don't remember if that was ever resolved.

* Food:

We had a LOT of problems with our food - sometimes it wasn't cooked, sometimes it had sat out for a few days and then served to us. I know this was somewhat resolved.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was really hard to truly feel a part of the city because it was far away, and we were so dependent on the busses. However, we loved getting to know the Settignano people - that was absolutely a silver lining. If we had been in the city, our experience would have been a lot different. But, we were able to have dinner with an elderly couple that only spoke italian, and fed us some of the best food I've ever had. We tried to stress to the rest of the groups going to really get to know those people in Settignano!!!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any major issues - I just had a really bad cough, and Jen took me to get cough medicine, which was easy enough to buy!

* Safety:

I felt completely safe!! My only advice is don't be stupid and use common sense. We did, and we were totally fine, even if we had been out really late at night.

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

If I were to do a different program, I wouldn't have gone through the changes that I went through. I would never change my Italy experience - if I were to have a second opportunity, I would go to Ireland, or Spain. But it's only because of Italy that I would love with all my heart to keep traveling, to keep seeing the world and meeting people, and to keep learning.


* 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)

It really wasn't difficult to live simply, to spend money on things that really mattered, and to still really enjoy ourselves!!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I don't know each week, but total I only spent $2,000 for the whole three months.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you want to make your money go far, don't spend a lot of money on food. It's really easy to eat a cheap breakfast and lunch, and still splurge a little more on dinner. We learned out to scavenge.. we would always ask villa morghen staff to give us any left over lunches or fruit, we would split things from the grocery stores and markets, etc. When it comes to travel, look at Megabus! We got from one country to another for only $1. For us, it was totally safe.


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
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? Highschool spanish and latin
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? Push yourself!!! Write down every vocab word. Bring a dictionary and sit with a friend and try to have a conversation only in Italian. Make use of your resources - you're living with a staff that speaks that language, and your teachers are there to help. Invite your teacher out to apertivo and only speak it. I wish I had done all this more - I would really encourage future students to push themselves because they won't regret it!!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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?
  • Freedom to travel
  • opportunities to learn
  • the community!! Our group was phenomenal.
* What could be improved?
  • I wish we would have had more of Jen's "Reflection" Classes - that was amazing.
  • I know other groups had speakers come, I would have loved to hear more from the CL communities! and be introduced to them!
  • More interactions with the local people, or other italian students.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? bring a blanket to the airports if you're gonna spend the night in one. ;) But really, I can't think of anything that I could have prepared for in advance. My only advice would be to not have any expectations.

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 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.