Year in Alba Past Review

By (Music, St. Mary's College of Maryland) for

St. Mary's College of Maryland: Alba - Signature Semester in Italy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Perspective on the world is great. Do it!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The expectation for classes (especially Italian) is that you are constantly working and studying on your own to master the language. Italian class will not teach you how to speak Italian, it will give you the tools that you need to learn during your stay. You should come with a genuine interest to learn the language.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Fall semester had 5 people. It was a little smaller than I had hoped, but very good all the same. The staff/faculty in Alba are wonderfully knowledgeable, helpful and organized.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living with a group of Americans is more comfortable, however it does little to help learning a new language. I was able to talk with my colleagues in Italian because we were both trying to learn the language together and spoke at the same level. Alba does not have that much of a nightlife and so you must make your own fun.

* Food:

The food in Alba is fantastic! The MENSA is great and the local restaurants are authentic and fantastic. If you have the apartment on Piazza Grassi, it has a wonderful kitchen. However if you want to cook, you must buy food on your own. You are given tickets/meal vouchers to cover your meals at selected restaurants and the MENSA, but outside of that you are on your own. Please realize, as simplistic as it might seem, that they eat Italian food here. In America we are used to a very large variety of food on a regular basis, but in Italy they eat very similar things every day. I personally enjoyed the limited diet and enjoyed the stability, but other students were sick of it by the time they were done. Like I said, it is great if you like Italian food!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Truffle Festival Parade (in the Fall) was a lot of fun! I am a musician so I got to travel a lot and perform in many different places with many different people. We also got to go to Florence as a group and took weekend trips to different places in Italy.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Alba is very safe. Joanna, our ORA was very helpful with all of our health concerns.

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


* 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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

You must actively try to learn the language on your own in addition to taking Italian class. Read newspapers, study verbs and vocabulary, do your Italian homework, talk with people on trains. You do need to use basic Italian in everyday interactions. For me, I was able to read and write sooner than I could speak reasonably, so I made a couple local friends and chatted with them with Facebook messages. Most people in the community do not speak English fluently. I would recommend doing some studying before you come. Noun flashcards...YouTube videos in Italian and even some Rosetta Stone if you can manage it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Athenticity
  • Opportunity
  • Safety
* What could be improved?
  • Organization from the Maryland campus
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Come here with a desire to learn the language and when in as the Romans do. DO not try to import American culture to the country. Instead, try to experience the one that they have here in a genuine way. Learning the language, even at a basic level is your key to do that.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Italian 101

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Dino Bosco
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Dr. Bosco is an excellent teacher and runs a challenging course. He very genuinely understands what we need in order to learn to speak a new language. We learn the things that are difficult to learn on your own...grammar, rules, native perspectives of the language. However, he expects that you are actively studying and trying to learn the language on your own. If you do not, this course is not very useful.
Credit Transfer Issues: