Ask Former Students

Chelsea Fife
Spring 2017
Pennsylvania State University 
Email Chelsea about her experience 

I am currently a junior at Penn State University, and I will be graduating in the spring of 2018. My major is Biobehavioral Health with a minor in Psychology. When I graduate from Penn State I will be attending graduate school to become an Occupational Therapist.

 

Most Memorable Experience
I took a Cultural Engagement Practicum that ISI offered, and it focused on critical disabilities. I took this class because I thought it went hand in hand with my career interests, and it sounded interesting to go to a restaurant once a week and help staff members who have disabilities. I never would have guessed that this experience would change my perspective on life. I was chosen to participate at a restaurant that was a short train ride from Florence. I was nervous at first because I did not know my way around Florence and now I would have to travel every Wednesday to a town nearby. I became adjusted immediately at the restaurant and the staff was so incredibly welcoming. Many of them did not speak English, but this forced me to practice my Italian. My last visit to the restaurant was very sad, but this showed how important this event was for me. The staff members wrote me a letter, and I could not help but cry as I said goodbye because it was an experience that I will never forget! 

Advice for Future Students
Never take any moment here for granted because time passes by way too quickly. Keep reminding yourself everyday how lucky you are to be able to travel the world and live in Florence. Travel to as many places in Italy that you can. Take day trips to small towns and cities because here you can experience another type of Italian culture, and you will find beautiful views, great restaurants, and a different way of life. Most importantly, always remember to get that extra cup of gelato, eat that third plate of pasta in one day, and explore Florence inside and out!


Daniel Colantonio
Spring 2017
Quinnipiac University 
Email Daniel about his experience 

I am currently finishing up my junior year at ISI Florence and will be entering my senior year in the Fall at Quinnipiac University. I study Computer Information Systems and I am graduating in May 2018. I am not exactly sure what I want to do in the future, but I am interested in using data and technology to help make an impact on people.

Most Memorable Experience
I would have to say my most memorable experiences were being able to travel throughout Italy to places like Sicily and the Amalfi Coast and also attending my art classes at ISI. I got back into drawing which was something that I used to love doing and the art professor is a great, funny guy. Everybody has a creative, artistic side to them and if you apply yourself you never know what can come out of it. I now have a sketch book and paintings that will remind me of my four months in Florence and it is something that I can keep for the rest of my life. Other great experiences were baking in the sun in Santa Croce while playing chess, walking up to Piazzale Michelangelo, trying Italian foods, and attempting to have a conversation in Italian by saying random Italian words. Being able to absorb the Italian culture was something that will always be with me. 

Advice for Future Students
My advice for future ISI Florence students would be to do what you want to do. Don’t feel rushed because the people you know are doing something else. If you make plans to go to the gym and then you want to go get a panino from Antica, go do it. If you want to just walk around and shop, go do it. Experience Florence the way that you want to and the way that you feel you should. There are so many different things to do and to see and the four months goes by so quickly. Also, I have never met people like the ISI staff that are so willing to help you and that are so caring. If you need anything or any advice, they have the answers and are committed to helping you in every way possible.


Anastasia O’Neill
Fall 2016
Roger Williams University 
Email Anastasia about her experience 

I am currently finishing up my senior year at RWU, pursuing a B.S. in Historic Preservation with a minor in Art and Architectural History. I will graduate in May 2017. After graduating, I will begin graduate school at SUNY Albany, pursuing a M.S. in Information Science with a concentration in Archives and Records Administration. In the future, I hope to work in the archival field researching historic buildings, and pursue my doctorate.

Most Memorable Experience
I volunteered as a tour guide in the Basilica of Santa Croce, which was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to view and discuss incredible art and architecture ever week. Additionally, I met interesting people who were visiting Florence from throughout the world. 

Advice for Future Students
Make sure you take time to explore the city of Florence! You’ll have the chance to take lots of great weekend trips, but be sure to set aside a few weekends to explore the historic city center and see what is has to offer. Florence is full of unparalleled art, food, and culture. I would also suggest, if you’re comfortable with it, to try traveling alone. From taking a day trip to the indescribable beautiful town of Ravenna to spending a week in the Highlands of Scotland, many of my best memories from studying abroad happened when I made my own travel itinerary. There’s a great sense of liberation in being able to plan your own travels and see the exact destinations you’ve always dreamed of.


Rosanna Curci
Spring 2017
Rutgers University 
Email Rosanna about her experience 

I am currently a Junior, majoring in Communications with a minor in Italian. I plan on graduating in May, 2018.

 

 

Most Memorable Experience
My most memorable experience in Florence was walking through the town. Everyday I would learn something new: take a new road home, find a new cafe, or discover a different part of the city. There is so much of Florence to explore and each little area has its own charm, making it look like a completely different city from one end to the other. San Lorenzo looks different than San Ambrosio does, Piazza Duomo looks different than the Oltrarno, and so on. I really enjoyed getting to know different parts of the city, especially the parts a little less well-known.

Advice for Future Students
Try to read a book/magazine article/blog/anything in Italian! You will probably see some words you know or have learned in class, and anything you don’t understand can be easily translated online or by asking a teacher! It’s such a great way to learn more Italian words and phrases in a short amount of time.


Sara Van Der Els
Spring 2017
University of Connecticut
Email Sara about her experience 

I will be a senior this Fall 2017 at the University of Connecticut studying Communications. I plan to graduate Spring 2018 and work in New York City focusing on Marketing and Advertising.

 

Most Memorable Experience
One of my most memorable moments while being abroad was when I went paragliding over the Swiss Alps. This is something I never thought I would do. I went to Switzerland my fourth weekend while being abroad with some friends – some who I had just met – and we bonded over this experience. I put my parachute on and ran off the mountain with my instructor. When I was in the air, I remember thinking to myself that these next 3-4 months are going to be the best months of my life. At this moment, I knew that going abroad was the best decision I have ever made.

Advice for Future Students
Be open-minded! If you feel outside of your comfort zone, good! This experience is a time for you to learn about yourself and meet other people who will teach you so much. Try new foods, travel everywhere, and journal about it. Engaging in the Italian culture is incredibly fun and a lot different than America. I recommend you walk around Florence to discover something new every day. Florence is the perfect size, which allows you to see almost every thing while you are here. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Time flies when you are here.


Hailey Fleece
Spring 2017
University of Maryland
Email Hailey about her experience 

I am currently a junior majoring in psychology at the University of Maryland. After graduation, I hope to obtain a ph.D in clinical psychology to become a child psychologist and help kids overcome their mental health challenges.

 

Most Memorable Experience
My favorite part about studying abroad in Florence was the incredible friends I made. I came to Florence without knowing anyone who was going to be studying abroad with me. Choosing to study abroad alone was one of the scariest decisions of my life, but I am so glad I did. I found an incredible group of girls that I am now glad to say are some of my best friends. My favorite memories of abroad were made with these amazing girls by my side.

Advice for Future Students
My advice for future ISI students is to get involved any way they can. During my semester in Italy, I had the opportunity to teach English to Italian 4th and 5th graders at a local elementary school. Getting to know the boys and girls in my class was an unforgettable experience. I learned so much more about the Italian culture by truly immersing myself as a local. ISI offers so many amazing volunteer opportunities in a variety of different fields. I encourage every student to take advantage of this and give back to the amazing city that will give you so many incredible memories.


Eric Petruzzo
Spring 2017
University of Virginia
Email Eric about his experience 

I am entering my final year at the University of Virginia and am double majoring in Economics and Italian Studies. This summer I will be interning with Sallie Mae and after graduation I hope to take a full-time position in the government or with economic consulting.

 

Most Memorable Experience
I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer as an English teaching assistant at a local elementary school during the semester. Even though I don’t want to teach as a profession, the experience unforgettable in that it allowed me to create connections to locals and further improve my Italian either with my class of 5th graders or the other teachers. From chatting about my weekend with the school staff to receiving drawings as gifts from the students, this experience reduced the whirlwind of living in Europe down to a welcoming and regular environment that made Florence feel like home rather than a postcard destination.

Advice for Future Students
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and abandon the ease of simply transporting your old lifestyle to Italy. Listen to European music, get to know your local baker, crave the moments when you successfully use the Italian language, befriend the ISI staff (seriously, they’re amazing), and travel alone. In my opinion, the discomfort, adjustments, confusion, and sometimes strife were my most educational and cherished moments as over time they allowed me to break down my American expectations and actually adapt to life in the Italian culture, so take them in stride and just enjoy the ride!