Authentic Italian experience
Submitted by skdavids - University of Massachusetts Amherst | August 15, 2016
While not one of the most well-known Italian cities, Perugia is a truly amazing place to study abroad. For those looking for a small-town feel and full cultural immersion, this is the place for you. One of the best things about Perugia is its size because it is large enough for you to still get lost in its beautiful winding cobblestone streets during the last week of the semester, but small enough for you to be on a first name basis at all of the gelato shops in town. My experience in Perugia was everything I'd hoped for it to be. I spent my afternoons studying on the sunny church steps in the piazza with my friends and learned enough Italian to be completely comfortable navigating my way around Italy with my friends. Combined with the world-famous Italian cuisine and a crew of lifelong friends, my semester couldn't have been better.
Academics: I took classes at the Umbra Institute with the other American study abroad students. The diversity of the students is limited - I only had a handful of Italians in my classes, but this didn't detract from my experience. If anything, it was comforting in the beginning to be with other Americans who were also adjusting to a new lifestyle. I had amazing professors. My Italian professor was hilarious and personable and taught us more Italian in one semester than I've learned during 2 years at school. I took an International Business Strategy course with one of the best business professors I've ever had. The classrooms are basic and on the small side, but the material in all of my classes was relevant and interesting. Some classes are more difficult than others, but overall the academics were less demanding than at home.
Housing: I was lucky enough to live in a beautiful, recently modernized apartment with three other girls. We had 2 spacious double rooms, a decent sized kitchen with new appliances, a huge living room that was great for hosting dinner parties, and a bathroom with a washing machine. We lucked out. The apartment I lived in was not your average Italian apartment - it was much larger and we did not have to deal with any of the issues other students in apartments had. The only consistent difficulty was the wifi, but Italian wifi is unreliable at best.
Cultural immersion: Your level of cultural immersion is up to you. It's very easy to spend time with only Americans. You live with Americans and learn with Americans so if that's what you're comfortable with you're all set. If you do want to be more immersed in the culture, Umbra makes it really easy. From soccer games with locals, conversations over sangria with university students,to volunteering at nearby schools, you can meet Italians if you want to without a problem.
Program administration: Overall, I had no issues with the program administration. All of my questions were answered relatively promptly and things were pretty organized. The only issue I noticed was that there was some miscommunication between staff about changes to schedules and who told students what.
Health and safety: Umbra gives a very thorough health and safety talk at the beginning of the semester. As long as you pay attention and stay with friends, you will be absolutely fine. It's the same as cities at home - be smart.
Social life: Perugia isn't a huge city with endless nightlife options. There are a few decent clubs and bars in town, but they can get boring after a little bit. There are clubs on the outskirts of the city and there are buses that can take you there and back. Most of the time, however, you are traveling on the weekends and experiencing different social life weekly. The piazza is the main gathering place in town. Whether for smoothies on the church steps to protests and parades, the piazza is where most of the action in the city takes place.
Program: Semester in Perugia
Semester in Thailand
Submitted by CRC - Chatham University | April 26, 2016
Studying abroad is something that I suggest for everyone, no matter his or her field of interest or past experience with travel (or lack thereof). I studied abroad last year with CISabroad Semester in Thailand. I had traveled quite a bit before that, but it truly provided me with a unique experience and taught me many lessons. Prior to that program, I had mainly traveled with family. Studying abroad with CISabroad provided the perfect mix of self-sufficiency and intensive support system. My experience abroad taught me to rely on myself in new ways, and I discovered how much I love to travel solo. This summer, I intend to do exactly that. While I learned this about myself, I also really appreciated the structure of the Semester Abroad program. There were multiple people from the program that were based in Thailand and they were always very friendly and helpful. They always offered advice and guidance when needed. The other participants in the program were also a major highlight. Not only did we enjoy having classes together, we also traveled together on the weekends. There were multiple excursions planned by CISabroad during the semester. These provided a great way to see more of Thailand, without having to worry about logistics because everything was taken care of. All in all, I suggest the program to anyone interested in visiting South East Asia. I am already wishing I could return!
Program: Semester in Thailand
"Czech" Out Prague!
Submitted by Galina F. - New York Institute of Technology | April 25, 2016
Growing up in the U.S., you get comfortable. You know the ins and outs of your country, the language, the people. Stepping into an entirely different country is shocking. You're put very far outside your comfort zone. But it's the most invigorating feeling. You have to learn the language, culture, currency, transportation, and much more to get around. I learned more about the Czech Republic and its enchanting way of life. Most importantly, I learned how to use my resources to explore something new and foreign. The journey was my greatest accomplishment more than the end.
As soon as you learn the norms and accepted cultural behavior, you'll do great. However, Czechs are not friendly towards outsiders. My caveat was that I'm Ukrainian so I fit in more. As long as you try to assimilate and adapt, they'll appreciate the effort. Learn a few phrases of the language!
Overall, Prague is a safe city. I never felt like I was in danger or had any threats. One friend got pick pocketed when he was drunk. Just be aware and be careful. Don't fall for the tourist street sellers!
Prague is a student's paradise! Food and transportation are very cheap. $1 beer anyone? You will get far on a small budget. The food portion sizes are huge, too. But don't go shopping for clothes. You'll end up paying the same as in the U.S. Go to Germany for clothes shopping.
Learn a few phrases. Use them when out and about. Learn a few more. Use them when on the town. Listen for common phrases, look them up, and memorize.
CISabroad prepares you well. We had an amazing site director, Leah. Although she grew up in Canada, she's an expat in Prague. Having a native English speaker was a huge relief. She understood us and our needs better and provided a more tailored guidance throughout the trip. Leah helped us find a few great American spots and pushed us to visit new places and events.
Semester on the Gold Coast via CISabroad
Submitted by Taylor - University of South Carolina | April 05, 2016
My semester would not have been the same had I not gone through CISAbroad. When we arrived in Sydney back in January, I knew two people from my school, but fortunately for me, CISAbroad was a smaller program of only 36 students and I would not have wanted it any other way. To be able to go through a program where you are able to get to know everyone on a personal level makes transitioning to a country much easier. Although we may not have necessarily been friends under other circumstances, everyone got along and joined together as a "family." Jackie Chapman who runs the Australian CIS program is also the most amazing host we could have asked for, she's fun and easy to talk to, and also very organized.
Bond University itself is amazing. With a travel agent right on campus, we are able to travel all over with a convenient airport just 20 minutes away if we want to go somewhere for the weekend to explore, which is the whole point of being abroad. The campus is beautiful and has a pool right next to my dorm which is nice to go to between classes if I don't have time to travel to one of the many beautiful beaches that are 20 minutes away via public transportation. The nightlife is crazy with clubs in Surfers Paradise, a bar right on campus that hosts parties, or simply going to a small bar over in Varsity Towers. Everyone is always willing to go out to have a good time. However, Bond is also an extremely difficult school. I have found myself in the library more often than I wish (I'm currently here right now) but I feel that I'm getting a great education for the money that I am paying.
All in all, I'm sad to see my semester at Bond coming to an end and I most certainly do not want to leave this amazing country. I am going to return home missing my friends, but more importantly Tim Tams, more than anything.
Studying abroad will be the best decision you will ever make, and regardless of whether you choose Bond or not, choose CISAbroad for the best program experience!
Program: Semester on the Gold Coast
Submitted by Bianca - University of Newcastle | April 05, 2016
I absolutely love Australia! The people, their morals, the scenery, food, etc. This trip really has opened up my eyes to make sure I see as much of this world as I can. CISAbroad helped me make an easy transition from the states to Aussie life. It was great we had an orientation starting in Sydney that allowed us to meet other students staying at other universities to give us opportunities for future visits and friendships. They had so many awesome activities planned for our orientation, so worth it. At first, I thought the program was so expensive, especially since I'm paying it all on my own through loans. Seeing where my money went towards though, I can definitely see where my money went towards and that I got a huge bargain. Staying in Newcastle though, wish we were placed in housing with roommates to help us meet people from the uni. When we got there, everyone already knew each other and it sucked living alone all the time. Other than that though, I completely love the experience I'm having here, and wouldn't change it for the world!!!