I loved it so much I went back to live there twice. Past Review

By (California State University - Chico) - abroad from 08/27/2015 to 05/14/2016 with

USAC Italy: Viterbo - Intensive Italian Language, History, and the Arts

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
"Do you country a favor. leave it" I learned to go outside of myself, make hard decisions, and see the world differently. It was well worth it.

Review Photos

USAC: Viterbo - History, Art, Music, Environmental and Italian Studies at Tuscia University Photo USAC: Viterbo - History, Art, Music, Environmental and Italian Studies at Tuscia University Photo USAC: Viterbo - History, Art, Music, Environmental and Italian Studies at Tuscia University Photo

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.

I took less rigorous courses than most people did. Some took more writing and reading intensive and history courses, where as I took more cultural, drawing, cuisine, sociology, and Italian Language courses. Therefore everyone is bound to have a different educational experience in Viterbo and based on the student you are and the classes to take will depend on whether or not you liked the teaching credentials of the USAC professors. I had some intense moments during the school year, and also more laid back times, so it's different for everyone.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I had a great experience with the on-site USAC staff in Viterbo and I still have a great relationship with them till this day. They went above and beyond for everything and anything I needed, even after I was a student and lived in Viterbo for a few months. They always were available to me like family and always spoke to me in Italian because they knew it was my goal to be fluent. Although I was mostly independent during my study abroad, they helped me prepare for any doctor visit I needed to attend to and any traveling I needed to do and didn't know how to execute. They are very wonderful, fun, exciting, and helpful people. We have to consider however, for all USAC staff or any study abroad staff, that they work with so many people and students that if they don't take care of your living situation right away because you have a nightmare of a roommate or headache of a neighbor, it's not the end of your experience and that shouldn't weigh on whether they give them a 10/10 rating. I enjoy that I could rely on them for just about anything (courses, internships, language tips, apartment mess) but also just pop in to say Ciao and have a laugh or too.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My apartment was beautiful; marble floors, three bedroom, two bath, small kitchen/our common room (who doesn't want their common room to be the area we all come together and eat?). It was small enough to be Italian, but my bedroom was big enough for personal space, along with a balcony. Our apartment was outside of the historical medieval wall, unlike most USAC apartments, but I think that's what I liked about it most. It was modern so we didn't worry much about old toilets and infrastructure. Because it wasn't in the historical district, I went to more places like the local mini market right under my apartment where I got to know the owner and her mother who had fresh produce everyday. I had different pizzerias and bars and an adorable flower shop to walk pass everyday on my way to class. That was also the best part, I was a 3 minute walk from the University which lies just outside the historical wall of Porta Romana on via Santa Maria in gradi. Despite the luxurious sunsets outside our kitchen window, always-warm home and hilarious boy neighbors that I shared a bedroom wall with, we did have a neighbor that lived right below us and had it out for Americans. She hated us probably and only because we were foreigners. We never made a peep in our apartment and she still claimed we bounced up and down and played horrificly loud music. She wasn't even that old to be honest, probably in her 50s. The older residences loved us and enjoyed speaking to us whenever we crossed paths. Anyway, she just had it out for us, but it's all apart of the experience, right!? No need to give a 9/10 for just her.

* Food:

Local, fresh, and to-die-for. You're going to see your local McDonalds, Chicken hut, fast and quick food just about anywhere in Europe, (unless you San Martino al Cimino--a near by city with a population of 3,000 compared to Viterbo at just about 60,000), but the local restaurants and shops have the most incredible food, great prices, and localized products. Buon apetito!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I could not have been more integrated and exposed to my Italian culture form living in Viterbo. Honestly, it's all up to you and the amount of immersion you bring upon yourself, but you're entire lifestyle and self can change if you do it right. At first, don't expect all Italians to be just beautiful uptight people all the time. The Viterbesi and local Italians are wonderful and friendly people. I think I have just as many close friends there as I do in the states. You just have to be willing to make those connections and friendships. The older generation is definitely the generation that stares at you the most, but this is because they know you're foreign by either the way you dress and act. Luckily for me I worked very hard and I learned enough Italian to have a different experience with the local community, especially of all generations. I would speak and listen to most of the cute old ladies sitting on the benches below the awning in Piazza Plebiscito, or the father on the bus on the way to San Martino al Cimino (cute little city by the way, easy to get to by bus and exceedingly smaller than Viterbo. Check out the restaurant there called Da Saverio. it. is. amazing). I even made relationships with the Italian ragazzini that I taught English to. So it's all up to you and the choices you make and how open you are to new cultural discoveries.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

For me 10/10 always ready, addressed, and taken care of. Although I had minuscule health issues because I came enough prepared and checked-up, if anything did come up for me I was taken care of or given assistance and carried out the problem on my own and/or with help from the Viterbo staff. I know one student had a late-night, after-hours incident and was in a lot of pain. I know she had some complaints about the readiness and quickness of the resident director, but I know that the RD did the best he could at the time and we have to cut the student a break with the pain she was in. So things happen and could take time depending on hour of day, but things are dealt with and there is a hospital in Viterbo. You won't be left to suffer. They great thing about USAC is that you are insured. You just have to carry out your dealings when they happen. So if you saw a doctor like I did, got a prescription, and paid for your medicine, you would relay that to your CISI Insurance and have that dealt with.

* Safety:

During the time I was studying in Viterbo, there was a bombing in Paris. I was in Florence during the time, I had two friends in Paris, and people were of course traveling all over the world. USAC and the USAC staff were prompt, informative, and ready to make moves immediately. They didn't hesitate and checked in with everybody in every way you can think of. The attacks happened during the late evening too, so having USAC staff readily available after hours is such a weight off ones shoulders. Luckily for us everyone in our program was safe and my friends in Paris weren't effected.

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

Well, I did do it all over again and chose the same program. I decided to extend my semester abroad to a year abroad and I have no regrets.


* 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)

In Viterbo, the prices are reasonable, affordable, and definitely cheaper than Rome and other grand cities. So you could buy 30 items of groceries (depending on the supermarket) and spend on 10 to 15 euro. You save a lot. I rate the Viterbo program a 2.5 - 5 being the easiest city to afford, only because it depends on the shopper and spender that you are. Otherwise, it's very easy and minimal, but not as cheap as Thailand.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? between $50 - $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Money is always difficult because you have America that has private banks, some go international and some don't have a great international plan, and then you have you international ATMs and banks that well, are foreign to you and your American money. Plus exchange rate and all that. I used Chase bank which unfortunately doesn't have a great international plan and a percentage rate that when I take Euros out of the Bacomat (ATM) I get taken out the American amount PLUS I get charged a percentage because I'm outside of the Chase bank range. So, I had to be cautious of my money, and if I did have to take out of the ATM I would take out the largest amount, this was I only got charged once, once a month. Tip: bring cash already in euro and or bring American cash (but note you have to exchange it, best place is probably the post office, you get the best exchange rate). Bring as much as you can do you don't have to take too much out when you have to pay rent and utilities.


* 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? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Duolingo, level 5 ;)
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Read, Speak, and Listen. Pay attention in class and try! The language is beautiful and I love speaking and translating it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people and culture
  • The location and how great it was picking up the language
  • How it still feels like home
* What could be improved?
  • Getting USAC students even more involved with international students
  • More event postings and local happenings
  • There are plenty of field trips to participate in, but there's always room for more I think.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I should have signed up for the year long program a head of time and I wish I was more aware of scholarship opportunities.

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.