Italy was great, but had some serious issues that could be fixed easily Past Review

By (The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 09/01/2015 to 11/19/2015 with

University of Texas at Austin: Study in Italy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was worthwhile, we had some great food and saw amazing places.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Smilja, our professor, was hit or miss. She is great at teaching the things she is interested in, but unfortunately that seems to be only 2/3rds of the work. The rest she is clearly put off by teaching and it is obvious. She is very disorganized and got us lost regularly during outings, which could have easily been remedied by giving her TA a 20 euro sim card for cell phone data to get bus schedules, maps, etc. We were more often than not having to skip meals during outings because we didn't get to the bus stop on time and had to wait for the next bus, or we got lost trying to find the cemetery when on a charter bus, etc. Things that made the outings arduous when they did not have to be but for a little forethought or technology on her part. The feeling among the group was that she has been doing this for 20 years and enjoys the outings but no longer feels that she needs to prepare for them (but things change year to year and she does need to prepare!). Even the itinerary of the semester was static for 6 months leading up to the trip, but was changed after we got to Italy, causing many to have to change plans or miss school due to already booked trips over long weekends that were taken away. She also played strong favorites with our group, giving some of us lots of love and attention, and virtually ignoring others, or showing clear dislike. Many teachers do this, but it was amplified by the situation and felt inappropriate at times (living in close quarters and having there be little distinction between school and life).

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We had to hike a mile up and down a significant hill to do laundry, there were no screens on our windows but significant mosquito problems (and not air conditioning or fans). We were provided a desk top fan after much effort (local stores did not sell them), which broke after a day or two - they have not been maintained and are many years old. As I mentioned earlier the people who run the facility seem to do so begrudgingly and made us feel like we could not go to them for anything without getting shamed or blamed, which is not a good feeling when living in a small town in a place that you don't speak the language.

* Food:

The food provided by the facility was solid. Amazing at times, weak at others, but overall fine. There is good access to restaurants and markets close by, but the facility only provided one small refrigerator for 120 students, which was not adequate, and no microwave, toaster, oven, burner or tea kettle etc.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

They set up some very nice classes and time with local families and artisans that were really special. The local town really seems to embrace the program and made us feel welcome.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

We had doctor and pharmacy access close by, but for the most part we were on our own to figure out how to commuicate with them. If there was a serious issue the host facility would provide a translator.

* Safety:

We felt safe pretty much everywhere we went, but particularly so in the Castiglion Fiorentino

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

There is another Architecture study abroad program that travels more throughout europe and has a residency in paris at the end. We felt stuck in a small town (no car rental, etc) and were told the trip would be relaxing and we would get to know a town and people, but in hind site that did not happen as much as we thought and the seeing more, and being in more places sounds better. The other trip sounds like it was run much better as well based on student feedback.


* 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
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We had optional Italian classes but studio took precedence.

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? Beginner
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Study it ahead of time. There were two spouses that came along for the trip and they were able to focus on the Italian. They had much better interactions with locals that us students did.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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?
  • Travelling
  • Food
  • Living in another culture
* What could be improved?
  • trip organization
  • hosts more accommodating
  • more ability to travel and experience the area
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? all of the above

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.