Unforgettable Experience January 19, 2019

By (Thomas Jefferson University) - abroad from 05/26/2018 to 06/22/2018 with

SAI Study Abroad: Sicily - Syracuse Academy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes, this trip was undoubtedly worth while. Aside from learning the language, I learned that stepping outside of your comfort zone is the best thing that you can do. Going to Sicily, especially, was a choice that I am so happy I made. Its uniqueness and authenticity are what made it so beautiful and unforgettable.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Before studying abroad in Sicily, I had no Italian language experience. After taking the 4 credit Italian class with Gabriella as my professor, my Italian improved greatly and allowed me to interact with locals. The best part about taking the 4 credit class was that I was able to have a one-on-one with the teacher, giving me room to grow and truly practice my Italian.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing, in my opinion, was gorgeous. I was extremely lucky in the case that I had my own bedroom, which was super spacious and truly beautiful. Even though I had my own room, my apartment mates and I still hung out all the time-- I still talk to some of them to this day :) Although we did have some problems with our sink faucet, which would leak at times, and the WI-FI, which was only assessable in certain parts of the house, my roommates and I made it work!

* Food:

The food in Sicily was extremely fresh and to this day, I still dream of the granita di mandorle! The best part about our apartment was the location because we were right across the street from a grocery store with so many options and everything that we needed. Buying food and making it at home made it possible to save money.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Extremely! Learning the language definitely helped, and in Sicily, because it is not much of a tourist trap, I truly felt like I was immersed in the Italian culture. I happened to become friends with some of the locals who I continue to keep in touch with.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any experience with the healthcare, but I knew that if I did need something, we had our GeoBlue travel insurance. I heard good things about other individuals' health care experiences. I had a friend who got sick during the program, and one of the Syracuse Academy student service coordinators went with her to help translate the problem to the doctor.

* Safety:

In Syracuse, I felt very safe. I would often walk home from class alone, which I had no problem with because the scenery was beautiful and all the locals were extremely kind! I never felt that my safety was in jeopardy!

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

SAI was great in providing me with travel tips and all the advice I could have possibly asked for as I left America for the first time. I was initially so nervous, but SAI truly eased my anxieties and answered any questions that I had.

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)

Very easily! I was initially anxious about saving money because after studying abroad, I had plans to continue traveling in Europe for an extra month. However, after studying abroad, I still had enough EU left over and only had to withdraw another 100 EU once more to hold me over for my month of traveling! Per week, I spent about 50 EU on food (including going out to eat and grocery shopping). I was sure to get my daily gelato/granita every day whether I ate lunch/dinner home or out :)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 70
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Grocery shopping! Also, if you are comfortable with your roommates, get some essentials (butter, milk, eggs, etc) that you can all share and split evenly. This will help all of you in the end!

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

In Sicily, as I mentioned, it is not very touristy and not many of the locals speak English. Thus, we were encouraged to learn the basic vocab of the language that would help us order food, communicate with locals, ask for directions, etc.

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 III
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? Definitely take the 4 credit Italian class if you are able to! Having a 45 minute one-on-one session every day with the instructor in addition to the group setting was great and contributed a great deal to my learning. If you are only offered the 3 credit course, that's completely okay too because in a group setting, my friends and I were able to practice the language together. After class, we would all do our homework together and this allowed us to practice beyond the classroom setting. Also, talk to locals! Many of the locals are eager to learn English, so while you teach them English, they can teach you some Italian :)

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
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 friendly staff
  • The every day Italian lifestyle
  • SAI services
* What could be improved?
  • Some minor house fixes (faucet, WI-FI)
  • Add a few more trips (include Mount Etna as an included trip)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Traveling is a gift. It will go by SO fast, so cherish every moment!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.