It was suggested to me as I was applying for a scholarship to take a fifth year to study Italian.
Why did you decide to attend the University of Fribourg?
Beside having it suggested to me, the program would give me a very immersive experience in a smaller town. It would allow me to travel and explore and all within 90 days, meaning no visa and I would be back before Thanksgiving.
What was your favorite part about Fribourg?
It felt comfortable in that city, like a home away from home. Yet, I still felt like I had the old European city feel, with buildings from the middle ages at random corners and our very own Roman amphitheater on the way to school each day. Plus, I loved the Tuscan scenery.
What made your experience abroad unique?
I felt like I went on an adventure each day. For example, there was one day where I went sailing on a boat to an island where we climbed the mountain to a ancient ruin. After having class up there at the site, we had lunch looking out to the Mediterranean. We sailed back, but not before we stopped to swim in the Mediterranean where the water was as blue as the sky. At home, we enjoyed an outdoor dinner before heading home and gazing up at the stars on the terrace.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
They encouraged us to try out different activities that were unfamiliar to us, but interesting in a way that was safe. I did things that I did not think I would do because of their suggestions and advice.
What do you wish you could change about your experience?
I do not think I could have planned a better semester as many of the best things were not expected, so I would not have changed anything.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
I would wake up to eat some bread and Italian cheese before heading off to morning classes. We would walk by the ruins of a Roman amphitheater on the way to school each day and I enjoyed the walk. After morning classes we would go to lunch at some of our usual spots, where we got to talk and relax while also enjoying a great variety of Italian foods. The people were always so wonderful at the restaurant and gave great encouragement to us when we spoke Italian.
We would then head off to afternoon classes and finish by either walking home or walking around town. Some days were explored the old churches and medieval buildings or went to the highest hill to look at the Tuscan landscape. In the evening, we all met up with out friends and headed to our favorite restaurants where we were greeted like old friends. The people were kinds and often gave us extras of our favorite side dishes. After delicious meals, we headed home to finish up any work we had before heading off to bed.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I loved exploring my city of Arezzo or going to the top of the hill where I had a wonderful view of the panorama.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
I lived in a lofted apartment with two other girls from my program, with whom I got along with well. We had a huge bathroom and closet, and I enjoyed a relaxing bath ever once in awhile. The landladies were wonderfully kind people and I was happy to have been able to speak with them by the end of the trip with the Italian that I learned.
What is one thing every student should know before studying abroad?
You should take chances and not be afraid to try something new. You may get tired but push yourself to continue through to the end because there is something incredible at every turn if you are willing to make it.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
I feel a connection with Italy in a way I did not think I could have had without that time abroad. I feel like it is a home that awaits my return one day. I also see the culture in little pieces throughout America and see how the culture has even affected me and my family as a descendant of Italians. I want to continue to grow in my understanding and connection to this culture and language.
Would you recommend your program to others? Why?
Without a doubt! Those were some of the best months of my life and I would not have know that from reading a brochure or even hearing other's stories. This is an experience that one must take part of in, in order to understand.
Deanna is a neuroscience major and psychology minor, but she will be applying to medical school very soon. She decided to study abroad to explore a field that was both different from her major and connected her to her family heritage.