Confidence building. Pushes you to grow. Fun! Busy work. January 31, 2023

By (Italian, Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/01/2022 to 01/30/2023 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Florence

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The ability to use my second language calmly and confidently, all day long. How to navigate new situations. How to be alone. How I value spending my time. How to efficiently learn a language. What I missed about America. What I didn't. What I was ignorant about regarding life abroad. Lots of personal growth. Absolutely worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

A rich educational experience by way of my interactions with locals in my living situation, at the University of Florence, and outside of the classroom. The courses at the Middlebury Sede were highly, and in my opinion unnecessarily, rigorous. Due to scheduling issues, I took 2.5 courses at the Sede and one at the University. Across all Sede courses, produced approximately 60 pages of writing. While my academic writing improved, I found this to add an unnecessary amount of work to my plate the held me back from engaging with the community in Florence, with other students, and above all from spending time/energy doing the coursework for my University of Florence course.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administrative layout of Italian universities is much more hands-off. However, students attending Middlebury's program pay an American university tuition. Middlebury's administration rises above the hands-off Italian approach when it comes to dealing with student emergencies. They certainly make themselves available to help students in need. Otherwise, I found their engagement with students to be lacking. Besides a welcome and farewell dinner, there was very little effort to put students in contact with one another. There were gaps in communication. The physical site wasn't exactly a space in which students wanted to spend time, especially considering the mask restrictions which seemed to be the only covid restrictions in the city of Florence at that time. The administration was kind and cordial, but overall had the level of engagement of an Italian university with an Italian level tuition.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Nice space. Lots of opportunities to speak Italian. Great neighborhood. I am grateful to Middlebury for finding apartments with Italian roommates/hosts for us to live in.

* Food:

I'm a good cook.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It takes time, and of course also depends on your language level. By the end, I felt that I could navigate the local culture fairly easily, and made a good friend at the university. Of course, you have to be proactive about this - no one is going to do it for you.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any issues with health, but if I did I got the sense that Middlebury was ready to help out and that they provided adequate resources and instruction on how to use them.

* Safety:

Florence felt like a safe city to me. Obviously, common sense is required. I walked home on a few occasions late at night, but I'm also a tall male.

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

To be fair, I would choose something VERY close to Middlebury, but with a better grasp on sufficient academic rigor. I came abroad to grow personally and in my capacity to speak the language. That happened, but not because I had to put in long hours of studying everyday. I believe the program could have a better grasp on why students come and how to push them to improve and grow in the right ways. More interaction, less busy work.


* 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)

Cooking for myself, I didn't need to spend much. Food in Italy is not that expensive, especially at the grocery store. Of course, there's also rent and tuition to consider..

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you need to train somewhere, buy tickets at least a week in advance.


* 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? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
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! Talk! Talk!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Living and interacting with locals.
  • University of Florence.
* What could be improved?
  • More student to student engagement.
  • readjust goals of academic rigour.
  • Covid protocols unnecessary and hinder student interaction.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That going abroad is hard and that's why it's good - not because it's all fun and romantic.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Italian
Instruction Language: Italian
Comments: Professor Vossilla was a highlight of the program. I found him to be extremely engaging in class. I loved the subject matter and the excerpts we read. I found him to strike a great balance with pushing us and understanding the difficulties with reading philosophy in a foreign language. He made great use of field trips and was an excellent guide. We were assessed with papers and one presentation, and I found the expectations for these assignments to be clear.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Neorealismo Letterario

Course Department: Italian - sede
Instruction Language: Italian
Comments: I loved the books we read for this class. I was always excited to come to class and learn more about them. Class, however, was often a bit flat. I didn't find Prof. Turi's lectures to be overly engaging, despite being engaged by the coursework itself. I also found that Prof. Turi had a harder time teaching to students less adept at the language.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Italian - sede
Instruction Language: Italian
Comments: Professor Speranza was another highlight of the program. She was always a delight to see and always brought a warm energy to the class. I felt that often she was more in-tune with the students than the administration. This course, despite being a half credit, was very demanding. We produced two pages of writing every week (this took a fair amount of time for me at a high level of Italian, and there were students of various levels in the class). I think the course could be helpful, especially under Prof. Speranza's direction, but I think at present it is misguided. Students learning the language can spend hours writing a two page paper, but some never got over their fear to speak to others in public in Italian. I would have benefitted much more from cutting out the busy work which I was not invested in and instead, meeting up weekly to talk with strangers at a coffee shop and forcing us out of our comfort zone. Putting more hours of solitary work on us every week did not improve our Italian much.
Credit Transfer Issues: