Garrett Blasi - 2015 Program Participant
Hiking in the mountains around Lake Garda in northeast Italy
Why did you decide to study abroad?
Studying abroad has been a goal of mine for some time now and I thought this year was the perfect time to make it happen. There are many countries I would like to visit so I figured it would be a good idea to start now, while I have the opportunity as a college student. I think there are many wonderful benefits exclusive to being a student and I highly recommend that anyone in college try to go abroad if they have the chance.
Why did you choose Dolomit?
Dolomit's website caught my eye and made me interested in what they had to offer. The courses they offered seemed interesting and after checking I found out that their art history course would fulfill a course requirement at my school. I began contacting Juri (the program coordinator) and I could really tell he was passionate about what his program had to offer. The fact that the school is in Italy and that I would have the chance to visit Rome and Venice definitely helped in the decision-making process.
What was your favorite part about the location of the school?
There are so many reasons the location is ideal. Torbole, the city where the school is located, is a scenic town located on the northern tip of Lake Garda. This lake is the largest in Italy and is an amazing place to spend a few weeks during the summer. The weather was perfect almost every day we were there. Torbole's location makes it perfect for many outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and mountain climbing. The Dolomites are a short trip away, and hiking those amazing mountains was my favorite part of the trip.
Buildings stand in stark contrast to the mountains surrounding them
In what ways was your program unique?
Unique is a great word to describe this program. It is still very new but I strongly believe this makes Dolomit the best choice for students who want to study in Italy. Juri and Manola are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met, and their passion for their country and the program they have created is intense. If you study in Torbole you will receive the best hospitality imaginable. There are many opportunities to see the major cities in Italy if that is a priority, and Juri and Manola are wonderful about helping make preparations for such trips.
How did the local staff support you before and during your program?
From the moment I contacted Juri about the program in Torbole I knew I was talking to the right person. He is a very detail-oriented person and does an amazing job keeping in touch about all the important details required to plan for a trip abroad. Throughout the program Juri and Manola were always available if we had questions and were more than eager to make sure our stay was perfect. I felt safe the entire time I was going to school in Torbole and that was due to the fact that I knew I had some great people watching out for me.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
Honestly, there's not much I did not enjoy about this trip. If I had the time I would have liked to visit a neighboring country, but there was just so much to see and do in Italy. That being said, if someone did want to go to another country it would not be that difficult given Torbole's location. I also wish I had known more Italian before going abroad. It was still relatively easy to get around and get help when I needed it, but I think speaking the native language definitely adds something to the experience.
Vines frame a view of a village in Trento from the mountains
Describe a day in the life of your program.
That's difficult because there were two types of days while studying in Torbole. The first being a day in which we would go to school for a few hours before relaxing by the lakeside or exploring the surrounding areas. Other days were a bit more hectic, such as one day when we woke up in the Alps and by the time the sun went down we were lost in the streets of Venice.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program outside the classroom?
Hiking in the Dolomites was by far my favorite activity. Before hiking we stayed in the coolest mountain town called Pinzolo. There we met Genny, a geologist who helped guide us on our trip and shared her knowledge of the mountains. Staying overnight in a refugio was such a cool experience. The art and architecture we saw in Italy was incredible, but there was something about the beauty of the Dolomites that was beyond compare.
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
We stayed in an amazing hotel in Torbole. Hotel Centrale offered better accommodations than I could have imagined. The rooms were comfortable and the food was outstanding. It is incredibly close to the lakeside and the school, so the location could not have been better. What made Hotel Centrale the best though was the people who ran it. The owners and staff were so nice and really took care of us.
A view of a village in the Italian countryside
Now that you're home, how would you say your time abroad has impacted your life?
Traveling abroad was a new experience for me and it definitely opened my eyes in many ways. I have a great appreciation for the differences between cultures, but also the similarities. I am more confident now that I have had to deal with the struggles of finding my way in a new place where the people speak a different language. I also believe this trip has given me more incentive to travel even more once I finish my degree. There are so many cool places I want to see and now I know it is possible.