First semester: Great! Second semester... not so great... Past Review

By (Linguistics., SUNY - Albany) - abroad from 09/07/2012 to 07/18/2013 with

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC): Milan - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself. I also learned a lot about living on my own. It was definitely worthwhile. I think it could have been better the second semester, but at least from that I learned a lot about all the things that can go wrong and the things that need to be taken into account so as to help foreign students at my home university in the future.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The university resources, etc. are good. The courses for international students are interesting and worthwhile, but not intense or rigorous. They are however, meant to be this way so as to let the students learn life lessons which cannot be learned in the classroom. The regular courses are more challenging though attendance is not required. However, I really do not recommend these classes unless you are FLUENT-FLUENT-FLUENT in Italian-- practically native speaker level. I and some friends had good experience with some, but mostly negative when it came to these classes. Not only with the other students, but also the professors.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Pretty helpful. Perhaps because I was an American and took some Italian classes, I would have preferred to have more support at orientation. It would have been helpful to me to have an orientation to the new educational system, with advice on how to navigate better the study habits and skills necessary to learn. I felt very unprepared when I set foot in the regular classes and that negatively impacted my semester on all levels.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

A few qualms, but overall a very good experience.

* Food:

It's Italy. Food is great, especially if you know where to go. In Milan definitely go for aperitivos. If you're thinking of coming, let me know and I can tell you the names and places of the best gelaterias.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I still felt like a foreigner-- hanging out with foreigners-- try as I might to fit in.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The English doctors were not very helpful. It was easier for me to speak Italian. I would advise you to try for the English doctor if you don't speak Italian, but come prepared. If not, use another resource in the city.

* Safety:

I always felt safe. There are definitely sketchy areas, but know where those are and try to avoid them. To put it one way, I felt safe walking alone at night around my neighborhood. Within reason. The only time I felt unsafe was New Years. New Years in Italy consists of a lot of fireworks in the streets. Beware.

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)

Easily even though milan is expensive

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~50


* 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? Intermediate
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? 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? If I had advice, I would have taken it myself. I tried and I think I got worse. No one wanted to talk to me in Italian. : (

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Milan
  • Friends I Made
  • Opportunities Available
* What could be improved?
  • Integration
  • Cultural Experiences
  • Language Use
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish someone had told me how difficult regular taught classes would be and not to do them-- though I doubt I would have listened. I wish someone had told me that they would require a different study skill set and I wish someone would have taught me more socio-cultural things in order to better integrate. As it was, I made hardly any Italian friends because every time I tried to talk to one of them in class, they brushed me off. Many were very unfriendly and some were even unkind. Perhaps it is a cultural aspect I am still unaware of, but regardless, I would tell people not to take regular courses; many students won't condescend to talk to you. If people don't head this advice, I would say, take classes taught by men because the female professors are tougher and often not very sympathetic with foreign students. I speak from my own negative experience and the experience of close friends.