3 Months that taught me more than I could ever imagine Past Review

By (Benedictine College) - abroad from 09/04/2015 to 11/19/2015 with

Benedictine College: Florence - Semester Program in Florence, Italy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how much I didn't know about so many things. It was humbling to truly be in the world and recognize how sheltered and uncultured we can be over in America. With all of the different cultures and races constantly mixing in and out of cities and countries, I experienced so many different kinds of people and so many different places. It was such a gift to be able to risk yourself on a simple train ride and ask how the person next to you was doing. Odds are that they had an incredible story about how they got to where they were today. This trip has huge spiritual significance for me as well. Being in the places where the saints lived and truly walking in their footsteps, along with our history course, was something indescribable. For the first time, I truly recognized, for myself, that Saint-hood was attainable. Now that I'm home, I think back to that recognition, and I realize that this trip has shaped my every day life more than I could have ever imagined. Although I am no longer gallivanting around Europe with a back pack, my backpack is full of the things I took from each experience. I would give anything to do it again!

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

There was a problem within the cooking staff, and they even had to hire a new cook near the end of the program! Once the new cook was hired, the food was much better!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Because the class schedule and the time it took to get into Florence, it was hard to go in on a week night unless you were going to eat dinner in the city, so sometimes it felt like we were "stuck" but that was only if you didn't go into the little town square we were in outside of Florence and really put yourself out there, which was one of the best parts!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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

Florence is one of the most incredible cities in the world. The art, the history, the culture, the food! It is also relatively easy to travel from, whether it's a train or bus ride to another city in Italy, or a train to Rome and flying from there, you could get almost anywhere without much trouble. The Resident Director, Pietro, was one of the most incredible parts of the experience, he paved the way for any place you wanted to travel, you could always go to him for questions about Florence, or any other city and he always had the best, most helpful, answers!! He helped us so much. This priest in Florence, Father Scott Murphy, was also one of the most incredible aspects of the program. He is the chaplain for English speaking students and English speaking families over in Florence, and it was an incredible "bonus" that we had. Although he wasn't in the Villa with us, you could always email him and make a personal appointment in Florence, or go to his Tuesday night student masses!


* 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)

If you were smart with saving fruit and other snacks from the meals in the Villa, you could easily get by spending hardly any money besides when you were travelling! Excellent work.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe 35 Euro
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Decide on a daily budget before travelling to other countries and make sure that you try your best to keep within that. Have one day where you can be spontaneous and try something crazy in the culture you're experiencing, but then try to be conservative for the other days!


* 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

Our Italian teacher was excellent and really encouraged us to use the language. There were also a few days in the class where we went into Florence and actually had assignments where we had to interview people to up our comfort level!

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? Spanish II in High School
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? Try to really speak it with your fellow students, and GET OUT as much as possible! Don't be afraid of messing up because people will be more grateful that you're at least trying to learn it, rather than just taking the easy route and sticking to English and making no effort.

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?
  • The history course we took was absolutely incredible. It was helpful to go into museums and actually know what we were looking at.
  • The RD and the sense of community that the Villa we stayed in encouraged and fostered.
* What could be improved?
  • The location of the Villa was not ideal
  • The food for most of the trip could have used some improvement.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had brought a warmer coat!

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.