An Authentic Italian Experience Past Review

By (University of Massachusetts Amherst / UMass) - abroad from 01/09/2016 to 04/29/2016 with

CISabroad (Center for International Studies): Semester in Perugia

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot of self confidence, independence and travel skills. I learned to do things I wanted to do by myself and became much more confident in my own abilities. It was absolutely worthwhile. I think study abroad is one of the only ways to gain such high levels of self-sufficiency and independence at a young(ish) age. I also made some incredible friends and connections abroad that I will have forever.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I took classes at the Umbra Institute with the other American study abroad students. The diversity of the students is limited - I only had a handful of Italians in my classes, so this may be a deterrent if you are looking for full immersion. That being said, it was comforting in the beginning to be with other Americans who were also adjusting to a new lifestyle. I had amazing professors. My Italian professor was hilarious and personable and taught us more Italian in one semester than I've learned during 2 years at school. The classrooms are basic and on the small side, but the material in all of my classes was relevant and interesting. Some classes are more difficult than others, but overall the academics were less demanding than at home.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall, I had no issues with the program administration. All of my questions were answered relatively promptly and things were pretty organized. The only issue I noticed was that there was some miscommunication between staff about changes to schedules and who told students what.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was lucky enough to live in a beautiful, recently modernized apartment with three other girls. We had 2 spacious double rooms, a decent sized kitchen with new appliances, a huge living room that was great for hosting dinner parties, and a bathroom with a washing machine. We lucked out. The apartment I lived in was not your average Italian apartment - it was much larger and we did not have to deal with any of the issues other students in apartments had. The only consistent difficulty was the wifi, but Italian wifi is unreliable at best.

* Food:

Multiple small grocery stores within a short walking distance with a larger supermarket only a short metro ride away. Cheap pizza and other street food on every block, incredible complaints!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Your level of cultural immersion is up to you. It's very easy to spend time with only Americans. You live with Americans and learn with Americans so if that's what you're comfortable with you're all set. If you do want to be more immersed in the culture, Umbra makes it really easy. From soccer games with locals, conversations over sangria with university students, to volunteering at nearby schools, you can meet Italians if you want to without a problem. In addition, there is the option to enroll in the local university instead.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had an eye infection abroad and was easily prescribed some eye drops with the help of an Umbra administrator. She helped me write a note to give the pharmacist in Italian to make sure I got what I needed. Very simple.

* Safety:

Umbra gives a very thorough health and safety talk at the beginning of the semester. As long as you pay attention and stay with friends, you will be absolutely fine. Perugia is a small city and I never felt unsafe.

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

CIS provided everything I was looking for: an authentic Italian experience in a small town with ample opportunities for language and culture immersion. Not many programs go to Perugia so, as a result, it is not super touristy.


* 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's tough to stay on budget while abroad, especially when traveling but living expenses are minimal aside from food so if you budget you should be fine. Keep in mind that travel adds up.


* 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

The program gives students opportunities to meet with Italian students and interact with locals, but for the most part your classes are in English. The school encourages you to speak Italian as much as possible, but it is up to the individual to decide how much effort they want to put in.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced Composition and Grammar
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? Talk to locals and Italian students as much as possible. Use the language whenever possible, even if it's just saying "hi" or "excuse me" to someone in a store. Talking a little bit every day helps to increase your confidence in your language skills and it will become more natural.

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

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Field trip opportunities
  • CIS events with program coordinators
  • Small group of CIS students
* What could be improved?
  • Communication between administrators
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known that not all days are going to be great. It's study abroad, but you are still going to be homesick or lonely on some days. That being said, I wish I had known that everyone feels that way despite how they may seem. Everyone is in the same boat and so willing to each other out.

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

IBS 380

Course Department: Business
Instructor: Ian Walsh
Instruction Language: English
Comments: If you're looking to seriously improve your international business knowledge with an incredible, dynamic professor this is a must-take course. The professor is one of the best I've ever had, and was incredibly knowledgable with years of interesting, relevant experience. The class requires a lot of in-class participation and reading, but is not overwhelming. Exams are written and very specific so if you do the reading and pay attention during discussions, you will be fine. Hands down one of the best business classes I've ever taken.
Credit Transfer Issues: