Alyssa DeRosa - 2014 Program Participant

People at a festival in Treviso for Carnevale.

Alyssa and some friends at a festival in Treviso for Carnevale with the customary coriandoli, or confetti.

How did you come to decide on studying abroad in Padua?

BU offers so many great programs, I can’t imagine not wanting to go on one. The difficulty is then in choosing which location, but for me the decision to go to Padua was relatively easy. I had been studying Italian for quite some time and knew that this would be a great way to immerse myself in the language. Also, it’s Italy! Who wouldn’t want to get to experience the amazing Italian food, art, and way of life for four months?

What was your homestay in Padua like?

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the chance to experience a homestay during my four months in Padua. My host mother, a woman named Luisa, is one of the kindest people I have ever met. Time spent with her, whether it was while she was teaching my friends and I how to cook one of her amazing risotto dishes or at family events that I was welcome to attend, provided me with the invaluable opportunity to improve my language skills and learn more about the Italian culture.

Carnevale tradition in Verona.

Alyssa and a friend covered in flour (a Carnevale tradition) in Verona.

What was a typical day like as a student in Padua?

A normal day began with a brief morning walk, passing by accordion players and breathtaking churches, to get to the center of the city where the BU academic center is located. We would all attend our morning classes on Italian film/literature/immigration and then head out for lunch. Our favorite option was to just buy some bread and cheese and head to one of the piazzas for a makeshift picnic, followed by a necessary stop for gelato. We’d have our afternoon classes and then return to our homestays to do some homework and have dinner with our host families. After dinner, we might all meet up in the piazzas again for more gelato (yes, I’m ashamed to admit twice in one day!) or to mingle with some of the local Italian students.

What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?

If I have to pick just one, I’d have to say it was a weekend excursion to Bolzano, a town in northern Italy right near the Alps where they speak both German and Italian. Here we were, American students who had just gotten a handle on the Italian language, suddenly trying to understand German street signs and menus.

The point of this trip was to go hiking, which is, to put it mildly, not an activity I was incredibly familiar with nor particularly thrilled about. I am so glad however that I gave it a chance because I was rewarded with the most incredible views of snow-capped mountains peaking out from behind the rolling green hills that surround the valley where the town of Bolzano is located. If I could have stayed there forever, I would have. The only thing that got me to stop staring and head back down was the sight of the sun starting to dip below the mountain peaks in the background. We were all sad to leave, but after just a short train ride later, we were exhausted and happy to be back “home” in Padua.

main street in Padua

Via Roma, one of the main streets in Padua.

What was the most challenging part about studying abroad in Italy?

Even though I had studied Italian before going abroad, the idea of a language barrier was pretty daunting. However just by living with people speaking the language, taking classes in Italian, and practicing with Italian friends, I saw improvements almost immediately. It did take me some time to gain the confidence to speak without doubting myself, but with the help of my incredible professors and the other students, I was able to learn to speak without over thinking and just laugh off any mistakes I might make.

What tips would you give to future participants of the Padua program?

Be open to new adventures! Talk to people in cafes! Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because that’s when you’ll learn the most about yourself! Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it! But most importantly, take in everything that you can! You’ll be surprised at how quickly things like walking past breathtaking churches on the way to class can become commonplace, but remind yourself to stop and look each time or you’ll regret later every time that you didn’t. 

Cable car in Bolzano.

View of the cable car leading down into the down of Bolzano below.