In the short time of three weeks I learned basic Italian, grew immensely as a singer and performer, and formed relationships with people I had merely passed in the hallways of the music buildings. All these experiences are ones I will never forget, but perhaps the most rewarding aspect was the relationships formed with the Italian people.
My professor brought us to every corner of Rome, to the classic adored tourist spots such as the Spanish Steps, or the lesser known areas such as the EUR. It was magnificent, and I woke up each morning as if it were Christmas day. The presents were monuments, statues, frescoes, churches . . . we were never short of material to photograph in Rome.
Having the opportunity to live with an authentic Italian family, it was rather interesting to learn how they live and what they value. With this came the task of communicating with them, which was slightly nerve-wracking at first since I was afraid of making a mistake, but it gradually became second nature.
The town itself was small, quiet and peaceful, but the people were always talking and energetic so I never felt bored. I especially enjoyed hearing them talking. The people talked with a rhythmic intonation and accents in the middle of sentences that sounded very expressive. I thought that the language reflected the characteristics of people, or vice versa.
Nicholas Guido Montini, my full name. Guido a family name given to my father and his grandfather, and of Italian decent of course I was extremely excited to be studying abroad where my heritage originates. This program not only excited me, but as well as my parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins. A chance for one in the family to travel to where our ancestors are from has finally presented itself.
In Turin, I witnessed the outcomes of hosting the 2006 Winter Olympics, and in Milan I attended the World Expo on sustainable food. At this mega event, I critically assessed the World Expo itself and the impacts on the city and people of Milan from hosting the five month tourist attraction.
I chose this study abroad program in particular because of its connection with The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. This festival is the most exclusive and prestigious conference in the advertising industry. Many professionals who have been in our industry for years dream of going, and to have the opportunity to attend, as a student was an amazing experience.
. I had never been outside of the country before, except for Canada once, and going into this program, I was nervous. By the end of the program, I wasn't nervous anymore, and even though I did not go to learn the language, I was fortunate to learn some of the Italian language. I was able to get so much more out of this program than I ever expected.
Being a singer in Todi was like being famous already because if one of the locals loved your voice and you as musician, you were sure to be reminded every chance they got to remind you.
Studying abroad taught me how to slow down a little and enjoy the experiences while they last instead of always trying to rush onto the next big thing. An example of this is meals—we had two incredible family meals as a study abroad group that could last over two hours, which most traditional Italians do. Over there, meals are used to sit and savor the food and friends or family you are enjoying it with.
Me, the 19-year-old who doesn't like to go to public restrooms alone, had to learn how to navigate the Milan metro, Venice vaporetto (water bus) system, regional train and airport shuttle networks, and find my way through each city, all by myself and without internet data or GPS. And that was just for getting to and from my destinations; it took me 15 minutes and WikiHow just in order to find out how to flush the toilet in my apartment when I first arrived.
I found a new appreciation for my major and found more desire to learn and be the most I can be. I also learned that the American way, isn't always the best or right way and that there is validation in accepting other techniques.
Bad things happen everywhere and we can't make one bad moment ruin our entire program and give a bad impression of a culture. Losing things is hard, especially something that holds so much importance in our life, but it's worse spending our time dwelling on the bad rather than enjoying the beauty in front of us.
Dining is a huge part of Italian culture that they take pride in, an experience which can last 2-3 hours and includes many courses. If we ever took the time to have such an extensive dinner, we would start with an appetizer, often consisting of fresh mozzarella and sweet, juicy tomatoes. A first course would consist of a light pasta dish followed by a meat dish, and then dessert and coffee.
The pure scholastic aspect of study abroad was the most amazing learning experience I've ever had inside a classroom. Learning became fun, and traveling became addicting. However, more than anything, I am walking away from my time abroad knowing I loved my experience for the people around me. Spartans stick together, and I am so grateful to experience it alongside some of the best students and professors at Michigan State University.
Going into the program I was extremely nervous because I was worried that I would be behind in the curriculum because of my major. However, this experience allowed me to open my eyes to many different things and also got me thinking about my future career.
I arrived to Rome, not knowing anyone but ready to meet new people and experience a new culture. I willingly thrust myself into a completely new lifestyle and I was able to overcome several personal feats along the way.
Culture, the most misunderstood and overlooked element, is by the far most crucial aspect of business. Culture; the learned values and beliefs in which dictate our every action, determine our every behavior, and influence our daily lives
The next day I engaged in conversation with a music publisher and honestly, it may have changed my life. Now for the longest time I have been passionate about music and having truly gifted artists be known and loved as I love them. Funny enough it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of it.
From time to time, an experience falls into my life that is so beautiful and unexpected that I find it almost impossible to communicate in a meaningful way. For me, studying in Italy was such an experience.
Hearing the unique perspectives and ideas of Young Lion winners and world famous brands and advertising agencies, brought together the global spectrum of creative advertising to me, and gave me inspiration and reassured me that this career is what I want to peruse here during my time at Michigan State.
I am Vocal Music Education and Performance major; singing in Italian is a very ordinary task for me. But singing Italian music for Italians was a whole new experience.
The sort of wonderful thing about studying in a foreign country, in addition to all the amazing cultural immersion that happens, is how quickly you begin to bond with the other students traveling with you.
The buildings took my breath away as I gaped at the intricate designs each time I passed. It is hard to imagine that the beauty, architecture, and language would become normal but as the weeks passed it somehow did
In my class I was academically challenged in an active learning environment while my class rooms were places such as: the Roman Forum, The Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, the Capitoline Hill and the Pantheon.
We were in class from about 8:30 until 5:30 every day, but we were at different locations throughout the city rather than in a classroom. By the end of each day we were exhausted, but saw a lot of great places, including locations in Venice, Prato and Siena.
We also had to complete a community service portion feeding the homeless once a week which was a great way to give back, learn about the Italian people hands on, and give back to city.
We attended seminars, workshops, and presentations from companies such as Google, Heineken, Coca Cola, and more.
The homestay portion of Study Abroad made me dread coming back home to America, for we developed such a strong bond with the family and the other students.
Many of my opinions about our domestic practices have been changed and several of my perceptions about the European Union have changed as a result of my study abroad.
I had never seen a place like this before, and it is by far the most beautiful place I have seen on Earth so far. We went hiking through the mountains, spent time on the rocky beaches, and took a boat taxi from one town to another.
I am a non-traditional student who funded this program without help from my parents. It is very possible to do this on your own. I highly recommend study abroad to anyone on any income level.
Once we arrived at our hotel in the center of Rome, we immediately fell in love with the city. Our hotel was perfectly located, and smack dab in the middle of everything. We were truly living in the city.
As an Italian, it was wonderful to be immersed in their culture and enjoy many of the traditions I’ve seen in my own household practiced as a part of an entire country’s daily routine.
I became introduced to a variety of career paths that incorporated my passion for food and required a science-based degree.
I feel as though there is no better way to experience a culture than through eating their foods and that is exactly what I was able to do on this program. I was so full of culture by the end this program and I will always be hungry for more!
The great thing about this study abroad program was the experience of visiting the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. There is only so much one can absorb from a document or photograph. The true impact comes from the firsthand experience.
Visiting numerous churches, the Vatican Museum, bustling piazzas, the Forum, the Colosseum, and various museums, I was able to see more of Rome than I ever imagined along with my very own “tour guide.”
I studied in 5 cities, 4 countries, with 3 different languages in 4 weeks; talk about amazing. This experience turned out to be a huge boost to my academic and career goals.
When the white smoke did come out and the new Pope came out on the balcony it was an amazing site.
That is the beauty of studying Classics in Rome: the immediacy of everything, the great sense of weight and reality that accompanies everything you learn.
I met a girl and her mother that were from Austria and were just vacationing in Rome, and ended up going out to dinner with them twice, just to find out that she would be studying abroad in LANSING this year! Such a small world.
Though just a fraction of my incredible adventure in Todi, Italy, this first meal is a great representation of the experiences that I got to have.
Like any other incoming freshman, I was nervous about my classes, living without my parents, and finding my way around campus. But going to a new country where they do not speak English and have a different way of looking at things made me more comfortable with the idea of being on my own.
However, I would definitely recommend doing all of the activities that are made available. There is so much to see in Rome, and everything has its own historical background, so it was amazing to compare the landmarks to one another.
This FSA class was so much fun, I learned so much, and I met people that are in the same dorm as me, only three rooms away. For any freshmen going to Michigan State University not knowing a lot of people I highly recommend this. I have met lifelong friends with a lot of the same interests as me, I got to spend three days on campus and learn the campus before I even go there, I got credits for college, and I got to study in a different country how better could this get!
Being abroad allowed me to fall in love with my dreams and to grasp a new determination to go back and pursue a successful career in Advertising and Public Relations.
The courses in this program provided me with international awareness, which in an increasingly global society is a crucial attribute to have.
It was a lot harder to make friends than I had expected. I hadn’t realized that one of the benefits of studying solely with Michigan State students was that you already had a bond and something to connect over – the love of the green and white. Some of the students I met knew absolutely nothing about Michigan State (don’t worry, I made sure they knew the basics before our time was over!).
From a musical standpoint, it was a surreal experience performing solo songs in a foreign country. The Italian culture is extremely artistic and they are much more accepting of opera and classical music.
It no longer mattered whether a student was at an undergraduate or graduate level; we were all on equal terms, and we were there to help one another. I always had to be attentive, but that did not mean I had to be nervous. I learned what to listen for, I developed my opinions faster, and I could voice my views with confidence.
As a person I have learned that you can never go into something without being opened minded because you lose your objective which is to get the most out of whatever experience that you are so blessed to have.
It was a refreshing experience to be able to learn about the history of one of the most famous physicists at sites that he himself had been present at and to see the equipment he used.
I learned so much in the first week; everyone in the program was speaking some sentences and being able to communicate with the locals in the area.
Regardless of tensions between foreign nations, or cultures here was all walks of life from all over the world coexisting and bonding over something as simple as a view of Rome from one of the tallest pieces of architecture.
Overall, while abroad I believe I grew on a personal level and even though I come from a very diverse background, I appreciated experiencing even more culture in a totally different country.
It was also deeply personal for me, being of Italian descent, to see where my great-grandparents were from. I was able to improve my Italian language skills in a way that I haven’t since I’ve been in college.
While I was able to take classes and study the history of Florence, I was also immersed in the current culture of Italy, offering a unique chance to learn from a new perspective.
As to how nervous I was about being in a foreign country and not being able to speak Italian, it ended up not being a big deal. Not only did I buy a pocket phrasebook that really helped, but most of the Italian people were very friendly and would switch to English when I began to struggle.
The best part of this experience, though, was eating all of the food at this wonderful place! I got to try delicious fruits that I had never seen before, ostrich hamburgers, salted beef sandwiches, licorice sticks, sausages, fresh bread, exotic oils, and I could go on and on.
That is the secret behind study abroad; if you never go, you may always be blind to something you love.
Though the academic setup was tremendous on the program, the true value of a study abroad experience comes from the breathtaking unique experiences and personal interactions that take place on a program like this
The learning experience I gained while living in another country is something an "in class" education could never provide for me. Living in Florence for 31 days has really had a positive impact on my life. Seeing such old and amazing landmarks made me really gain an appreciation for what I would call "true art".
I was nervous to hail a cab, to meet my host family, to take the bus to class in the morning—everything was completely new to me. But almost immediately, I was shocked at how resilient I could be and how quickly I was able to assimilate, even though my host mom spoke no more than five words of English.
Upon first learning that I would be staying with an Italian family in their house for the entire program, I was nervous and apprehensive because I did not speak a word of Italian and because of the fact that they were complete strangers. Our program was unique in this way, but ultimately, I feel that the home-stay program was extremely beneficial and made my trip that much more enjoyable.
My first day in Paris was surreal. Upon my arrival at the airport I began to take in everything around me. Everything amazed me from the elegantly pink restrooms in the airport to the subtlest of things like the fact that they used hand clothes instead of paper towels.
I cannot emphasize enough how this program furthered my academic journey. I learned about collaboration. I learned about being observant. But most of all I learned about cultural differences. In the international business world, it is absolutely essential to be prepared for cultural differences. There is a vast difference between conducting business in metro Detroit and conducting business in Rome.
I wanted to do it myself but I always thought that I could never do it because I didn’t have a way to pay for it. Everyone told me, “It is worth it even though it costs a lot of money. Everyone should do it!”
Before I knew it, the first day of class had arrived and I felt like the amount of Italian I had forgotten since taking a few courses two years ago was insurmountable. I honestly thought the people around me were making up words and laughing at what each other said to make me feel inferior.
I’m not joking when I say I had the best food I’ve ever had. Italy knows how to cook. Between the Spaghetti Carbonara and the Buscatini all’Amatriciana I was in heaven. The sauce was divine and they cooked the noodles to the perfect point of thickness. I can’t even get started on the pizza.
On campus we learn about the masterworks in textbooks, but that is incomparable to seeing something like “Birth of Venus” in person. Perhaps one could get the idea of the composition from the page of a book, but one could never notice the gold leaf which lined her hair as I did standing in front of it.
One of the best experiences I had while studying abroad was our trip to the Cannes International Advertising Festival. We were very privileged to be able to go and I took full advantage of it.
I got along with everyone instantly, and for me it was interesting to see, people’s reactions to some of the typical European things, I was aware of. It reminded me of how it was the same for me, when I came to MSU and to the US the first time.
During my stay in Italy, I was able to visit the most fascinating places of Florence, Rome, Pompeii, Orvieto, Cortona, Todi, and Gubo. The magical place of St. Peter’s Basilica, the haunting ruins of Pompeii, Michelangelo’s David, the fountain of Trevi, and the 14th century duomo in Orvieto gave me more appreciation for the arts in general. I gained so much more personal and academic knowledge than I had expected from studying abroad.