10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Study Abroad Experience

Sarah Fuller is a student at Elizabethtown College, who will soon be pursuing a master’s in International Educational Development at Columbia University. Sarah spent two separate semesters in Perugia, Italy, as part of CISabroad’s semester and study internship programs. Read about her tips for your upcoming study or intern abroad travels (and check out some AMAZING photos from Italy!).  

1. PACKING: Don’t forget those important items.

I always make a packing list (and save it for my many trips) based on my daily activities. It’s really easy to overlook an item that you use each morning when you pack in the afternoon or evening. A few days before I begin packing, I keep a notepad and pen handy and write down anything that comes to mind or that I use during the day that I will need during my trip.

2. PASSPORT & VISA: Start early. Trust me.

Don’t procrastinate! I know I’m not the only one recommending this, but it’s really important to make a visa appointment well in advance. Anything can happen, from not being able to get an appointment to your visa getting lost in the mail. Starting this process a few months in advance will help ensure that things will go smoothly.

 3. FAMILIARITY: Do your research!

Know the culture as best as you can before you travel to a certain place. Their style of dress or eating may be different. Certain ways of behaving, talking, and interacting may be accepted while others are not, and they may be very different than what you are used to. Take some time to “brush up” on the culture before you go so that you can spend time immersing yourself rather than feeling uncertain.

 4. UNCERTAINTY: Deal with it proactively.

However, no matter how much preparation you do, uncertainty is almost guaranteed. Reach out! Ask a study abroad advisor or your CISabroad site director if you have questions, because it’s much better to have your questions answered than to spend months wondering why a certain norm exists or if something you’re doing is acceptable.

5. MAKING FRIENDS: It’s easier than you think, but different than you may think.

I spent a few weeks smiling at strangers in hopes of making friends the way that we in the U.S. normally initiate conversation and friendly contact. I was met with frowns and confused looks, because smiling to strangers the way that I was meant that I had something to hide or was untrustworthy, according to my host culture. It was really important to learn this and I was able to talk about these differences with other college students from the town at local gatherings. Speaking up about my confusion by asking local students actually helped me to form some friendships!

 6. WALKING: Dress for comfort, not style.

I walked so much more than I do when I am at home! I was glad, as I love walking, but if you’re not accustomed to or prepared for it, then you should get used to the idea before leaving. If you don’t own comfortable shoes and are going to a European country (I can’t personally speak for other countries than those in Europe), you should get a pair. Bonus points if they’re waterproof!

 7. TOURIST SEASON: Living La Vida Local

Yes, it’s okay to be a tourist. As you spend more time in your city, you will become more acclimated, but at first you WILL be a tourist. There are certainly things you can do to reduce this effect if you want (like not wearing American flag-logoed clothing, for example, or not wearing sweatpants to class), but embrace the fact that sometimes the freshest look on a place can be the most exciting. Take all the pictures you want, because those and the memories you make will remain when you go home! But do your best to also get to know the local culture — besides just the main streets and American hangouts.

 8. PHONE HOME: Keep in touch how you can, as often as you can.

Your family will most likely miss you terribly and may have played an important role in your being able to study abroad. Stay in touch with them and update them on your adventures, but be sure to find a schedule that works for both them and you! If you talk about this before leaving for your program, it may help to reduce pressure on you later. But remember to be flexible. You may plan to talk every Sunday, but then discover that there is a local concert or theater performance you’d like to attend. Sending pictures or writing blog posts could end up being your favorite means of staying in touch, and then Aunt Pat and Uncle Tom, the cousins, your siblings, and your mom’s friend all can read about your adventures!

9. BRANCH OUT: Make time for your own experience.

If you’re studying in a town with a friend from home, consider yourself lucky to have a familiar face to help you adjust, but don’t become too attached to that one person. Meeting new people, even fellow Americans, can add to the new experience of being in a foreign culture. You may make lifelong friends who will share your similar experiences abroad. Having a friend from home is great, but don’t be afraid to branch out and get to know an entirely new side of yourself!

 10.KEEP A RECORD: You’ll appreciate it later.

Document your experience somehow: blog posts, pictures, videos, a diary… Years from now, you’ll want to recall your time abroad, and no matter how vivid the memories are now, they will fade and details will blur as you tell the stories again and again. Documenting your experiences also allows you to recall them when you apply to graduate school or future jobs.

Curious about what CISabroad’s programs (like the ones Sarah experienced) are like? Check out our Study Internship in Perugia and our Semester in Perugia programs.

Summer Abroad in Florence Top 5…So Far

Joli Katz

Jolie is a Junior Exercise Science major at the University of Delaware. This summer she is spending six weeks studying in Florence, Italy with CISabroad. Join her as she discovers this beautiful city.

I’ve only lived in Italy for a month, but I definitely have had more than a months worth of food and activities. I was thinking of dedicating this blog post to the best things I have done, or have had in Italy.

1) The best weekend trip.

Every weekend either together, or with classmates, my roommates and I go on day trips and weekend trips. It is a good way to explore the rest of Italy and other countries while abroad. I would say the best trip we took was to Cinque Terre. The views were amazing (as long as you go on a sunny day). Every picture I took looked like it came off of a postcard, and there are beaches there too. There are 5 different towns to hit so it is a lot to do, but it is definitely worth it. You can even hike from town to town. If you are crazy adventurous and in shape, you can hike them all. My roommates and I only hiked from one town to the next, and let me tell you, that probably made up for the three weeks I didn’t work out. However, the aerial view you had on the hike couldn’t be beat. If you are lazy and just want to see the beautiful towns but not die over them, they are all easily accessible by train.


2) Best pizza.

Gusta pizza is the best pizza I have encountered. I personally went simple, a heart shaped pizza with tomato and mozzarella. But, Guy Fieri from the food network went here himself and had a salami and cheese calzone as well as pizza. This place is small, cute, but most importantly, delicious.



3) The best Gelato.

The best gelato is hard to find. Florence has gelato places on every single corner you turn. Make sure that you go to authentic and real places, though. If they are charging you 6 euros for what seems to be a normal size, it’s a tourist trap. If their gelato is stacked up extremely high, it’s probably a tourist trap. The best gelato I have had so far comes from GelateriaEdoardo right by the Duomo. They hand make their waffle cones right in the store. The second you walk into the little shop you can smell them. And, even for someone like me who is usually a cup girl, I couldn’t resist getting the refreshing gelato in the waffle cone.


4) Best view.

Now the best view in Florence would probably be a tie between the top of the Duomo, and the top of Piazzale Michelangelo. But, if I were forced to choose, I would go with the top of the Duomo. I chose this as the best view in Florence because it is rewarding. After climbing up all of those steps in a pretty tight space, you get the relief of the open air and the view of the whole entire city. Instead of waiting on line for hours to climb it, I definitely recommend getting a skip the line pass. This may cost a little extra but it definitely saves you time.


5) Last but not least, the best place to buy food.

The central market (mercatocentrale) is filled with Florentine culture. You can buy anything from meats all the way to fruits and vegetables. It is a good way to grab healthy foods and snacks, and experience a little haggling as well. And, right outside the central market is a lot of leather stands for you to stroll by and shop at as well. Never pay the marked price. If you do, you’re getting ripped off. If you walk away or say that you won’t budge, most likely they will give you the price you want or something in between.


Reflections on Traveling Alone in Florence, Italy

Joli Katz

Jolie is a Junior Exercise Science major at the University of Delaware. This summer she is spending six weeks studying in Florence, Italy with CISabroad. Join her as she discovers this beautiful city.

I have always been an outgoing person. Sitting in a room talking to strangers, friends, and especially family has come easily to me. However, while on my search for a study abroad program that was right for me, I couldn’t help but be overtaken with anxiety. I was traveling alone. I was going to a country I have never been to, not knowing anything more than 3 basic words in Italian, and not knowing anyone that was going. So, while the outgoing side of me was elated for the experience I had ahead of me, my introverted side couldn’t help but worry about how this experience would actually turn out.

The way I felt arriving in Florence was one I couldn’t really explain. I pulled up to my apartment in a taxi to see one of my roommates sitting on the steps. I smiled and waved, until I realized that I had no clue what my roommates looked like and I was just assuming she was in the same boat as me. Luckily, she was one of the four girls I would be living with. I guess its safe to say that my assumptions come from watching too many episodes of Real World (not even going to try to pretend like I don’t watch it). I mean, it does sound familiar: five strangers living together in a location they have never been before, each pulling up in a taxi arriving one by one. But, unlike the Real World, my roommates and I meshed well together, having no drama or fights at all. And because of this I realized that traveling alone was the best thing I could have done.

Traveling alone has pushed me out of my comfort zone. It forced me to open up and let people in, pay attention to my surroundings and learn directions, and gain social interactions that I didn’t know I needed. Walking around in Florence I’ve gotten lost a few times. I had to ask Italians to help me find my way. I did this by communicating with them almost non-verbally. This taught me how to interact with people who are different than me. Forcing myself to know the area because I could not rely on family or friends showed me that reading a map can actually be better than wasting what little data I have on Google maps. And, coming back to my apartment wanting to tell someone about my day forced me to open up to the new people I was living with. While having a friend or two on the trip would have made things easier for me, I’m realizing now it is a crutch that I don’t need. At the end of the day, there were plenty of people on my program traveling alone too, which created an even stronger bond between us.

I have always been the person who thought studying abroad was an essential opportunity to take advantage of in college. So, I can promise you that studying abroad alone will give you the same exact experience that you would’ve gotten studying with people you know. It is scary, uncomfortable, and even a little frustrating at times; but it is also beautiful, exciting, and new to be doing it all on your own. I would regret it every day if I didn’t go abroad because I didn’t want to travel alone. Because now I know that the anxiety goes away, the loneliness is minimal, and the possibilities are endless.

If Only I’d Known…A CISabroad Alumna Looks Back

Sarah F

Sarah F. spent her 2015 fall semester studying in beautiful Perugia, Italy with CISabroad. She is currently a CISabroad alumni ambassador and is finishing up her degree in Early Childhood and Special Education with a minor in International Studies at Elizabethtown College.

I’m a worrier, an over-thinker, a perpetual planner, a type A… needless to say, I had many questions about study abroad and by “many,” I mean that my study abroad director’s name was always within the first three emails in my inbox and my CISabroad program coordinator could have been on speed dial. I asked my questions and I got my answers, but the only thing that truly settled my mind was the “abroad” component of studying abroad. It wasn’t until I was in the town where I studied that I finally took a sigh of relief and realized that all my questions would pan out much like everyone had reassured me they would. Of course, that was the exhale. The subsequent “inhale” was wrought with many more questions that simply wouldn’t be resolved until I experienced my way into the answers. Study abroad is an exciting whirlwind of an adventure and when you blink, it’s over. Why fill your mind with concerns that in hindsight will seem pointless when you could instead live every adventurous moment to its fullest? With that in mind, I’ll share with you some of the things I wish someone would have told me about study abroad when I was in your shoes before my exciting departure.

1. The visa process can be stressful.
Although CISabroad will get you the material you need to complete your visa application, it is imperative that you plan and schedule an appointment with the consulate in advance. Do not wait until after you get the material (like enrollment and insurance letters) from your provider to make an appointment. Consulates book up well in advance and even though you can schedule your appointment for a later date, waiting until later to try to schedule it is just added stress. Call as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. Be kind to the consulate no matter how gruff they may seem. Ultimately, your goal is documentation from them that will allow you to enter your program’s country. Do not make enemies, and be patient, as they have many visas to process. On a side note, if you are a U.S. citizen, your country of citizenship is “United States of America,” not “America.” Save yourself the embarrassment that I encountered and note this.

2. Pack in advance. Make a list. Check it twice…and thrice.
Do not save packing until the last minute. I will be writing another post about packing and what to bring, but start with a list of the essentials. A unique way to do this, that ensured that I remembered everything, was to keep a small notebook nearby for a few days. Whenever I did anything that is part of my daily routine, such as putting in contacts, showering, going outside and taking an umbrella if it’s raining, etc., I would write the essential materials (contacts, contact solution, shampoo, an umbrella) in the notebook. This is a way to ensure that the essential materials that are part of your routine make it into your suitcase. Allow yourself time to add to the list, to realize that not everything fits, and to repack. Trust me, this is much less stressful than waiting until the last minute! And yes, you will be able to live without peanut butter (or whatever your guilty pleasure is) for a few months.

3. Trust the program!
The study abroad programs are responsible and reliable. They will not be your parent while you are there; if you are mature enough to study abroad, you must be mature enough to handle yourself responsibly. They will, however, make sure that your needs are met. Be honest with them about what you need medically, academically, and in any other way so that they can help you to the best of their ability. You do not know everything when you board your plane. You might not know what to expect at the airport or the first few days, but if anything expect this: You will arrive in your destination in the capable hands of the people who want to make your semester as wonderful as you do. They are there to help you. Trust them and know that the arrival process will be taken care of.

4. Do not make promises you can’t keep.
This seems very blunt, but before I left, I believe I promised more people than I could count that I would send postcards. The reality is that international mail is expensive and promising this or souvenirs to people with whom you are not close will only cost you money that you may not have while abroad or room in your suitcase that you didn’t consider while packing. Be realistic with yourself and send postcards to those whom you know will treasure them and take souvenirs as gifts for the special people in your life. You cannot take them for everyone, and that’s fine. Promise instead to take lots of pictures and to share your amazing experiences with them when you return.

5. Do not only rely on the program-suggested cell phone provider.
I know a few students, including myself, who had a difficult time with the cell phone provider that the school suggested we use. Although this may seem convenient, depending on your location, there may be others in town that are more affordable and worth considering. Use wi-fi, if it’s available, to let your family know that you’ve arrived safely, until you find the smartest option for your own needs. Although it’s certainly not necessary, having a navigation app on your phone and access to data can make traveling so much easier and more enjoyable without the concern of getting lost.

6. Do not plan travel until after you have an idea of your classes and your friends.
It’s tempting to make plans of where else you’d like to explore immediately after stepping off the plane, but by waiting until a few weeks into the semester, I found that my planning and my trips were much more meaningful. By this time, you should have a better idea of who will be in your classes, when those classes will be, what days are necessary for you to stay in town for exams or other class commitments like field trips, and how transportation into and out of your town works.

7. Money seems easier to spend when it’s in the form of coins or in a currency you don’t understand.
If you’re studying in Europe, know that the lowest bill available is 5. There are 1 euro and 2 euro coins, as well as for cents. This is surprisingly important. Shelling out 3 euros in the form of coins seems to have fewer implications than paying in paper bills, but the coins that you spend add up quickly. Consider this while budgeting if you can’t seem to understand where your money is going (especially when many clerks in Italy practically demand that you pay with coins if you have them). It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the value of the foreign currency you’ll be using, as “not knowing” is a less acceptable excuse for how quickly you’re spending money if you’re going to be living there for a whole semester. Know the conversion rate so you can quickly have an idea in your head of how much something costs, but don’t rely on converting it to USD. Familiarizing yourself with the currency means also being able to know how much you’re spending without using a calculator. This is responsible traveling and living abroad!

Eccolo! (That’s Italian for “Voila!”)…Some random and hopefully helpful tips to consider before making the leap into potentially the most exciting and meaningful semester of your college career.

Student Spotlight: Summer in Rome

Lizzy Andrew

Lizzy Andrew is pursuing a major in Finance and a minor in International Business at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. In this post Lizzy looks back at her summer abroad in Rome, Italy and the positive impact it has made on her life.


My decision to study abroad for a summer in Rome through CISabroad was a decision I am so thankful I made (and what I now call my “best decision yet!”). During my summer in Rome I studied at the University of Rome and took an on-site Archaeology Course as well as a Sports Writing Course. Being a huge soccer fan, the Sports Writing course was right up my alley because we often wrote game stories about the World Cup that was currently being played at the time. The Archaeology Course was also interesting because it met in the city every day at different locations, depending on which archaeological sight we were learning about that day. We saw all the “can’t miss” sights, but also learned about many less known, yet very interesting sights. I learned so much in both courses, not only academic knowledge but a lot of cultural information as well!


Lizzy got to visit and learn about incredible architectural sites like the Ancient Roman Colosseum during her summer abroad.

During my five weeks in Italy I had the opportunity to travel on weekends to further away cities. My first weekend in Italy was spent within Rome seeing all of its own sights. Along with other CISabroad travelers, four of us went to Ostia Beach. It was a beautiful black sand beach just twenty minutes (and one train ride) away from Rome. It was a great escape from the city and made for a very relaxing day!
The second weekend spent in Italy was a weekend trip to the Amalfi Coast. Friday was spent in Capri, Saturday in Positano, and Sunday in Pompeii. Each night we traveled back to Sorrento, where our hotel was, so we got to explore that beautiful city as well! This was one of my very favorite weekends because the scenery was absolutely stunning and there was so much to see and do. In Positano, I had the opportunity to take an excursion and go cave swimming and cliff jumping. The adventure was something I will never forget!


Lizzy got to visit the incredible coastal city of Sorrento during her summer abroad.

The next weekend was a weekend spent in the Rome area as well. Friday we went to Castel Gandolfo through CISabroad. We met Romina at Castel Gandolfo for a great day. Again, it was a great escape from the city and it was not filled with many tourists. I called it Italy’s hidden treasure! The morning was spent on the beautiful lake and the afternoon enjoying a delicious lunch and exploring the town itself. The lunch included many different courses with a ton of different options! Appetizers came first which consisted of Caprese Salad, Ham over Cantaloupe, Arancini (rice balls), and something similar to garlic sticks. The first round of lunch was a type of ravioli with zucchini flour sauce. It was by far the best dish I had in my entire stay in Italy! The second round was homemade Gnocchi flavored with goat cheese and ham. Again, it was fantastic! Some others at lunch got espresso shots and iced lattes for after dinner. We continued to do more exploring that weekend, seeing the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain on Saturday. Sunday I made a trip with two CISabroad travelers to Venice! It was a far travel for just one day, but well worth the trip. I knew I couldn’t leave Italy without seeing the magical “floating” city of Venice. The Gondola Ride and exploration through the city was an experience like no other! We got up early and took the train from Rome to Venice, leaving at 7:50 and arriving at 11:30 am. Here I purchased a lot of unique gifts for family and friends back home. I also had the opportunity to get a fish pedicure. I had seen this on an American reality show, and heard there was a place in Venice that had it. A fish pedicure consisted of us putting our feet in a rectangular bowl with fish that then ate some of your skin away, rejuvenating it! It was a very interesting experience and I’m glad that I did it. My feet really did feel softer and cleaner afterwards!

Venice may be a long day trip from Rome, but it was well worth the effort!

Venice may be a long day trip from Rome, but it was well worth the effort!

The last weekend was spent in the Tuscany Region, with a visit to Pisa, Florence, and a vineyard in Tuscany. Friday was spent in Pisa with a tour of the four buildings in Pisa (the church, cemetery, baptismal building, and the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. After the tour concluded, we had the afternoon to enjoy a nice lunch and explore more of the town. The second day we headed to Florence for the day. We saw the beautiful Florence Cathedral with the Duomo. We made our way across the town to the top of the hill that overlooked the entire red-roofed city of Florence, which was breathtaking. It made the hike worth the while! Florence had a lot of great shopping and is a very different city than Rome. It was much more compact, and “newer” than Rome. However, in comparison to the United States Florence is a very old city as well! The artwork in Florence and details on buildings was astonishing. I can see why many students choose to study abroad in Florence too! The third day was spent at a vineyard where we learned how to make homemade pasta and had the opportunity to taste different wines. We also received a tour of the vineyard, which was both picturesque and informative when they taught us about how the wine is made. A woman owned the vineyard, which we were told is very rare in Italy, and that is partially what makes it so unique. I of course bought a bottle to send home to enjoy with my family.

Lizzy holds up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Lizzy holds up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

During my time in Italy I also had the opportunity to tour the Vatican, which was stunning and unbelievable. St. Peter’s Basilica was like nothing I have ever seen before. It makes you wonder how they were able to build such an amazingly huge masterpiece in a relatively short amount of time. The amount of detail throughout the whole Vatican is astonishing. It is something that cannot truly be captured in any pictures, it must be seen for yourself! We attended a Papel Mass on a Wednesday morning, where we got to see Pope Francis himself and attend a mass. Tickets were free, you just had to pick them up ahead of time.

A picture of Pope Francis snapped by Lizzy during her attendance of a Papel mass.

A picture of Pope Francis snapped by Lizzy during her attendance of a Papel mass.

Overall, my summer in Rome was the best five weeks and a decision I am so thankful I made. It has sparked my interest to travel and see the world. I truly now believe that “the world is a book and those that do not travel only read one page”. There is so much to see and so many contrasting lifestyles to understand. I have since had the opportunity to volunteer abroad in Cusco, Peru, which was another great experience. Italy has certainly opened my eyes to the world around me and got me excited about all the possibilities that are out there! The world has so much to offer if you’re willing to take advantage of it. Thank you so much CISabroad for giving me this absolutely wonderful experience. It is one I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life!!!


“The world is a book and those that do not travel only read one page”

Classical Summer Study in Italy

Are you ready for 8 minutes of Italy through the eyes of Justine H, a student from Valparaiso University? CISabroad worked closely with faculty from Justine’s university to create a summer course to remember “Classical Monuments in Context.” Each day of her program Justine captured twenty seconds of footage while she traveled throughout Italy. Do you see a common theme? Watch for a walk up tiny marble spiral steps, spectacular views, and Renaissance sculptures and architecture!



Practice your Eatalian in Italy

CISabroad Grand Tour students, Interns, and AUR students enjoying the best espresso in town after a private tour of San Luigi dei Francesi

CISabroad Grand Tour students, Interns, and AUR students enjoying the best espresso in town after a private tour of San Luigi dei Francesi

In Italy, you can easily practice and learn Italian while eating the delicious cuisine! If you are first time traveler and new to Italian, let’s start with breakfast.

Buongiorno, posso avere un espresso?
Good morning, can i have an espresso?

Posse avere un cappuccino con schiuma/senza schiuma.
Can I have a cappuccino with foam/without foam.

Posso avere un cafee’ americano?
Can I have an American coffee?

Vorrei un cornetto, per favore. Vuoto/con marmellata/con cream
I would like a croissant, please. Without/ with jam/ cream

Vorrei un dolce, per favore.
I would like a dessert, please.

Una bottiglia di acqua minerale naturale/gassata.
A bottle of mineral water natural/sparkling.

Vorrei una pizzetta, e una minerale da portare via
I would like a pizza, and a mineral water to go.

Quanto costa?

Grazie e arrivederci!

Grazie a Alessandro Bruno, CISabroad site director in Florence for inspiring this blog article with his recent post: “Practice your Eatalian when ordering breakfast…” on the CISabroad Italy Facebook page.


Five Reasons to Study Abroad During J-Term

Winter Break – it can be both a blessing and a curse for college students. It’s a beautiful breath of free time after finals, but can also mean a listless month at home with parents while missing friends. Luckily, there are other ways to spend that cold month in between semesters. If the world is calling, but you don’t see how studying abroad can fit in with two years of gen eds, two years of major focused classes, developing a resume, and everything else that goes into graduating,then study abroad during J-Term is your answer. J-Term is a short term study abroad program that typically lasts three weeks and allows you to quickly earn credits abroad. This short and sweet time frame can fit into almost any schedule while still offering the benefits of education abroad. Read 5 more perks below.

1. You Can Still Graduate On Schedule

“I want to study abroad so badly, but there’s no way I could graduate on time,” is a fear we hear far too often. Staying on schedule is one of the main reasons students decide against studying abroad, which is completely understandable – an extra semester or two of tuition can be expensive. J-Term programs offer an amazing winter break without worrying about wasting a semester’s worth of credits on classes you can’t put towards your degree. In place of a typical winter break, spend January having a culturally-rich learning experience in a new and exciting location. We’re not saying Saturdays on your parents couch aren’t great, but a few weekends in Florence is pretty tough to beat.

 Five Reasons to Study Abroad During J-Term

2. Get Ahead – Earn Three Credits In Three Weeks!

If that listless feeling or staying on schedule are still in the back of your mind you’ll be happy to hear that J-Term study abroad programs pack a solid punch in terms of earning credit. Students typically earn three academic credits during their J-Term abroad. That doesn’t mean you’re constantly in the classroom, though – don’t worry. Our programs offer a balance between work and play. Choose Costa Rica and you can spend your weekdays learning Spanish from local professors and your weekends ziplining through the rainforest.

The essence of studying abroad is learning through experience – there are no sidelines. You’ll be participating in hands-on, interactive learning by visiting historical sights, practicing the language, or observing wildlife. Of course, there will be studying involved, but it will be engaging and far from typical. You’ll participate in adventure filled excursions and cultural immersion activities all while working towards your degree.

 Five Reasons to Study Abroad During J-Term

3. Not Too Much, Not Too Little, But Just Right

J-Term is the Goldilocks of international experiences. The three to four weeks you study abroad will expose you to the culture, allow you to meet the locals, complete a useful course, and even pick up a good chunk of another language. The programs are specifically designed to ensure students get the most out of their time which means they have help before, during, and after. Culture shock is one of the hardest parts of studying abroad. Activities and courses are arranged beforehand so you can hit the ground running. You may still feel out of your comfort zone, but that is part of the beauty of experiencing new and exciting things.

 Five Reasons to Study Abroad During J-Term

4. Perfect Timing! Escape Cold Weather or Peak Tourist Season

Many J-Term locations will offer bright sunshine and warm beaches. Spend January in the Mediterranean and get a taste of Italy, Greece, and Turkey while studying Art History, Religious Studies, Archeology, or others. There won’t be nearly as many tourists and you’ll be free to explore the country without time consuming lines and crowds. Traveling out of tourist season is a wonderful way to really see the location. You get to see its local side, experience a more authentic atmosphere, and truly immerse into a culture or language. If you’re from the northern hemisphere, head south and arrive just in time to enjoy warm weather during the southern hemisphere’s summer. Imagine leaving your freezing cold hometown to study abroad in a tropical paradise

 Five Reasons to Study Abroad During J-Term

5. Make Lifelong Friends and Memories

If a year abroad doesn’t fit into your academic schedule there is no reason to miss the experience and relationships you start abroad. During a J-Term abroad, you will make memories just as wonderful as you would in a semester. You will take enriching classes, make friends from around the world, and try new and exotic cuisines. Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, something that opens up your world perspective. It is about quality, not quantity, and a once in a lifetime opportunity such as studying abroad shouldn’t be missed, no matter who you are or what you study.

 Five Reasons to Study Abroad During J-Term

Recipes from Rome

Mary Kelly is a featured student blogger and is currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

Last night, Maddie, Steph and I decided to go to a cooking class. We have been in Italy for a while now and figured it is about time we start cooking like it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but believe me, I left very satisfied.

It was definitely a fun and different way to spend our Thursday night. After all the cooking, we got to enjoy our fresh meal and my gosh it was some great food. So great that I am sharing the recipes for you to try at home. The even better news is that it was all super easy to make!


DISH: Primo Piatto SEASON: Any REGION: Emilia Romagna INGREDIENTS (serves 4): 200 gr (7 oz) semolina (durum wheat flour) 2 eggs 2 gr salt

Arrange the flour in a mould on a flat surface, creating a crater in the middle. Break the eggs in the middle and sprinkle with salt. Mix them together rigorously until you obtain a smooth mixture. Let the mixture to rest for 30 minutes, wrapped in a plastic film. Then roll the pasta dough and cut it through the pasta machine to form tagliatelle. Optionally, stretch it with a rolling pin. Sprinkle the layer surface with flour and roll it up in a spiral. Cut the spiral using a knife into strip, try and make them as regular as possible (7 mm in width). Unwind them, keep them separated and floured to prevent them from sticking together.

SALSA DI POMODORO INGREDIENTS (serves 4): 1kg (2 lb) ripe tomatoes 3 garlic cloves 50 gr (1.5 oz) extra virgin olive oil 4 fresh basil leaves salt to taste

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute. Put them in cold water to stop the cooking. Peel them, cut in wedges, remove the seeds and puree them. In a saucepan, saute’ the garlic cloves in oil until golden. Add the pureed tomatoes, salt, and cook for about 10 minutes, depending on variety and ripeness. Add the basil at the end of the cooking, off from the heat.


DISH: Primo piatto SEASON: Any REGION: Many

INGREDIENTS (serves 8): 1Kg (33 oz) potatoes 350 gr (13 oz) flour 2 egg yolks salt

Wash the potatoes and cook with the skin in salted water; them peel and mash them. When the potatoes are cold, work on a table and add the flour, salt and egg yolks. Form a type of dough without kneading it too much. Roll out into pieces and cut the pasta into small pieces. Make lines on all the gnocchi by using a fork or a grater. Once the gnocchi are ready, cook them quickly in salted boiling water (save) and once they float to the top, remove them from the water and allow them to cool; cover with oil. Once it is time to serve the gnocchi: drop them in the boiling water again and dress them with the sauce.


INGREDIENTS (serves 4): 80 gr (2.5 oz) shelled walnuts 2 garlic cloves 2 slices of white bread milk (to soak) 50 gr (1.5 oz) Extra Virgin Olive Oil salt to taste

Remove the crust from the bread slices and soak it in the milk. Drop the walnuts in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain them and remove the skin. In a food processor, puree walnuts, bread, garlic and olive oil until a smooth paste forms. Season with salt. If the sauce is too thick, add some milk.

Variations: for a different taste, add chopped parsley and/or fresh marjoram and garnish with pine nuts.

Bon Appetit!

Have you ever tried cooking in a different country? Leave a comment below!

Easter in Eastern Europe

Mary Kelly is a featured student blogger and is currently studying in Florence, Italy.

This Easter, I had the chance to spend my long weekend in Split, Croatia. I again traveled through the company Bus2Alps and I could not have been happier with how my weekend ended up.

We left Florence around 9 at night on Thursday, with a 13 hour overnight bus ride ahead. We got to Split around 9:45 a.m. Friday morning giving Abby and I just enough time to change before going white water rafting. At rafting, we got another change of clothes. We got full body water suits, tank top style and it looked more like a wrestling singlet. We also got water socks and crocs, a windbreaker and a helmet. We were looking good.

We started off down the river in Croatia ( I wish I knew what it was called) and everything was going smooth. It wasn’t until we were well on our way into rafting that we hit a couple bigger rocks, had to duck in the raft, and got soaked head to toe. It was awesome. Near the end, they stopped us at a cliff and said, “If you want to go cliff jumping, here’s your chance.”

Abby and I jumped at the opportunity. We decided to not think about it and just go. We embraced hands, tossed our crocs over the edge, and jumped for them. If you have never had a near death experience, well, let me tell you…the water was so cold, I thought my entire body was going to shut down completely in a matter of seconds. I heard the leaders telling me to swim to my boat and all I could think was that I couldn’t. I went to the nearest boat possible and just as planned, I was rafted to my boat. The rest of the ride was a bit chilly, but they fed us afterward. I ordered the fish. To my surprise, it was the entire fish: eyes, gills, little fins and all. It was pretty good, and eating it came so naturally, the skeleton I left behind made it look like a pro fish eater ate it.

Friday night was the pub crawl. The first club we were brought to was on the upper deck of a cruise ship. The weather was beautiful, the moon was out, and the alcohol was free. It was a pretty good night. There was also free pizza! After spending a few hours on board, we went to another bar where we got to dance the rest of the night. Instead of hitting up the third destination, we decided to go home and sleep because the next day was going to be busy.

Saturday morning, Abby and I woke up and headed to the docks. We were going island hopping on something called a “booze cruise.” I know what it sounds like, but it was the only island hopping available. Plus, this was a vacation. Anyway, they told us to bring our own alcohol. As everyone on board started making mixers and mimosas or popping champagne, Abby and I hide our bottle of cheap vodka and coke and decided we didn’t want to look so un-classy. We bought champagne at the first stop. The islands were beautiful. Honestly, I have never seen water so blue. Each island had its own unique beach and we spent the whole day lounging in the sun and making friends.

On Easter, we decided to take a bus ride to another country a couple hours from Croatia. Bosnia was a really cute Hungarian place. We first went to a small Bosnian restaurant and had a nice lunch and Bosnian coffee. The day started off great, then we got the check. So here in Italy, we pay in euros. In Croatia, we paid in kunas, and in Bosnia, the currency is marks. Now they gave us the check in marks, but told us we could pay with our kunas and euros. So we were trying to split a check between six girls who all ordered different things in one currency, while paying with two different currencies. It took awhile, but then we spent the rest of our day shopping and exploring the town.

That night Maddie, Abby and I hiked the huge hill in split and got to see a beautiful view of Croatia. Then, we enjoyed a nice seafood dinner and hot cocoa.

Monday morning, we packed up to leave, but before returning to Florence, we stopped at the Krka waterfalls in Croatia. This might be the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The water was again freezing, but it stopped no one from going in. I can’t even describe the falls, and photos won’t to them justice. You will just have to travel to Croatia yourself.

Have you ever been to Eastern Europe? Leave a comment below!