Disappointing Study Abroad Experience April 11, 2018

By (Georgetown University) - abroad from 09/08/2017 to 12/19/2017 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Florence

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I developed my language skills significantly but I would not consider this a worthwhile experience, I did not enjoy my time studying abroad as much as I should have.

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.

The tutoring program in conjunction with the Italian university was quite rigorous, but the resources were practically non-existent and the classes offered within the Sede were very easy and I felt like I learned very little.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I am not really sure what the on-site administrators really did the entire time. My classmates had extreme difficulty resolving trivial issues and very little support was provided to them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was lucky to have a good friend in my apartment complex, this was perhaps the main positive side in my experience, but I know many others had poor experiences and other school programs offered superior housing in its quality and location, as I was quite far in the outskirts of Florence.

* Food:

Inapplicable, I had to pay for everything myself and nothing was provided by Middlebury except for 2 dinners at the beginning and end of the semester.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I did not feel integrated at all with the local culture, I mainly spent time with Americans and there were very little attempts by Middlebury to immerse us with the Italians except for a one-time introduction to the Erasmus program, which was not the most welcoming program for Americans.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Not applicable, I had no experiences with healthcare.

* Safety:

Florence is very safe and secure.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

Please see my previous comments, I really felt I did not get the amazing study abroad experience which my other Georgetown classmates, the Middlebury program was small with very few resources or support given to students, if I had not taken the initiative myself I would have seen very little of Florence or Italy in general. A very regretful experience, I wish I had chosen a different program. For reference I have studied abroad before in Italy in high school for a year so I have a frame of reference for comparison.

Finances

* 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 was lucky enough to have financial aid funds and had earned money over the summer but it was definitely tough due to all expenses were paid by me. Rent was quite expensive and Middlebury did not provide any help, they did not even have a water fountain inside their academic building, I would have to leave and buy water. (Even my Italian tutor who was hired my the program was amazed by this situation.)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Usually about $400
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Grocery shop a lot. Try to save up before the program.

Language

* 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 language pledge was strongly enforced within the program and my Italian definitely improved. However outside the program's campus very few of the students followed it. I do not have any complaints here though.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had taken 4 Italian upper-level electives at Georgetown.
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? Focus in classes and definitely take advantage of the tutoring programs which are intensive and highly effective.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Language immersion
* What could be improved?
  • More support for students in resources, trips
  • Larger community
  • More interesting, engaging classes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known to take a different program, and how unsatisfying of an experience this was going to be.