Changed my perspective and changed my life Past Review

By (Benedictine College) - abroad from 02/01/2010 to 04/30/2010 with

Benedictine College: Florence - Semester Program in Florence, Italy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned about the differences between cultures and the similarities that all people have. I gained appreciation for my life here and for how other people live. I learned that everything we learn in the classroom has real tangible roots somewhere out that, and I got to see some of them. TOTALLY worthwhile.

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.

I LOVED the classes! I probably learned more in my classes abroad than in Atchison because they were so engaging. They were not the most challenging classes I ever took, but that is one of the reasons I enjoyed them. Don't make them harder! It was great to learn without impossible exams and lengthy papers. Every professor was passionate which made learning from them interesting. Spending time in the classroom and around Florence and Italy brought my education to life like never before! Combining lecture and first hand experiences was incredible!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were pretty nice, but also kind of sketch. It was weird that they double booked the villa and sent us on random trips. The trips were fun, though. The young guy was trouble. It was really nice when they would bring out coffee for breaks during class and set up a bonfire/cookout.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Loved the villa! Loved the location, right outside of town. Great setup with rooms, classrooms, computer room, dining room, and places to hang out all together.

* Food:

The food in Italy was incredible! Sometimes meals at the villa were interesting - not a full meal like in America. It just took some getting used to. It was totally weird that in sack lunches we would get two sandwiches - one with a slice of cheese and one with a slice of meat. That being said, the bread, cheese, and meat were all delicious. Now I'm craving one of those sandwiches! Loved being able to bring back wine to enjoy with dinner. I now love pesto anything!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

YES! On the very first day when we were zombies from jetlag, we got a tour of the town and the city. From going to local pubs, eating gelato, riding the bus, and watching the sunset with local wine and bruschetta to visiting churches and touring museums, everything we did was social and cultural! This part was probable the most life-changing! This is the part that opens your eyes to different people and cultures and experiences. It was fantastic because some of this was initiated as part of a class, and some came from the social nature of travelling with a bunch of college students. As an art major, I was literally in awe everywhere we went. To walk through the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance everyday took my breath away and sent me home with so much inspiration. We got to see things in person that I had learned so much about in textbooks. I got to share what I already knew with my classmates. With the things that we did on a daily basis, I really felt like we were living like Italians. We really did experience the local culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Ok, unlike most, I actually experienced this! After being attacked by dogs on a run, we had to go to an Italian hospital. I can say that the people in the program were great! They got us there. They got everything set up and taken care of. They spoke to people in Italian for us. There was hardly a wait. The Italian hospital was a little sketchy, but everyone was ok!

* Safety:

I was never worried about my safety. There was the occasional crazy drunk on the bus that threatened strangers and the dog attack, but otherwise all was good!

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

If I had to go back in time, I would definitely to everything the same - I loved my experience! If I got to study abroad again, I would choose a different program, though, for a new experience.


* 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)

I am not really sure how to answer this... I think I ended up spending around $4,000 while abroad. I limited myself and didn't do everything I wanted and didn't shop too much for myself. I totally did a lot of fun things, though. In the last couple of weeks, I had to call my mom for more money because I wasn't going to make it.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? A lot. I spent mostly on travelling and experiences though. I would splurge on good big meals once in a while.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Ask for money for travelling for your birthday and Christmas instead of gifts. When you travel on your own, eat out of your backpack - bread, fruit, etc. from grocery stores most of the time, and pick a meal or two to splurge on in each place.


* 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

Giovanni always wanted us to speak Italian in class. We watched movies in Italian in Theology. We were encouraged to use it anytime we went out into town and were first taught appropriate greetings for the time of day and places we went.

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? Two years of French in high school; Italian on Rosetta Stone for a couple weeks.
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? Practice with local people in town and on the bus. The more you practice, the better you will learn. Try to use it when you are out instead of looking for people who speak English. Be patient and accept people's corrections - they will help if you let them.

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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Italian food and cultural experiences
  • Benedictine connections
  • Traveling to different cities and countries
* What could be improved?
  • Maybe a better dryer in the laundry room?
  • more social activities with local college students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Some people are too anxious when they travel and stop being fun. Travelling brings out really different parts of people's personalities. Research places before you go - I never visited some of the best places in Florence and spent 4 days on an island with some of the most beautiful reefs on the planet but never went to that side of the island because I didn't know.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Italian Saints and Mystics

Course Department: Theology
Instructor: Tsakanikis (totally spelled wrong)
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Possibly the best class I have ever taken! We learned about so many saints and mystics in a way that was really inspiring. My faith was challenged and brought to life. I fell more in love with the Church. The field trips were insane. We focused on St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Sienna. We went to Assisi and Sienna. We saw where St. Francis was born and learned how he got his name. We learned in the classroom about how St. Catherine levitated up the stairs in her childhood home, and then in Sienna, we were in her childhood home! The teacher was one of the best I have ever had! he was passionate about the material, but also so invested in all of the students in a very real way. He wanted us to learn theology, but he also wanted us to learn about life. This class literally changed me.
Credit Transfer Issues: None.