I studied abroad in Siena, Italy for the spring semester in 2012. I attended CET Academic Studies, which is affiliated with The University of Virginia. I stayed in an apartment with six students, four of which were undergraduates from the United States in primarily small liberal arts schools like myself, and two students were Italian graduate students, studying Economics and Languages. Living with Italian students was one of the highlights of my experience, since we were not only able to learn the language and more easily and constantly practice Italian with them, but we were also able to become integrated into their Italian lifestyle while making long-lasting friendships. Out of sheer willingness to help us learn about Italy and enjoy our experience in Italy with our new friends, they taught us how to cook typical Italian cuisine, how to travel around Europe effectively, answered all of our many questions about Siena, and introduced us to their European university friends, most of whom we've stayed in touch with.
Studying in Italy allowed me to recognize my intellectual curiosities and be able to take advantage of them within the physical space around me. It also allowed me to fully apply the knowledge that I acquired from the classroom into the surrounding area, specifically with Italian Cultural History, Italian Language, and Art History. The satisfaction in personally visiting a painting or sculpture that was discussed in our art history class is hard to find in a classroom. The opportunity to study in a foreign country with such rich culture and history is incredible and has helped me discover my passionate interest in other cultures. For students about to study in Italy, especially smaller cities like Sinea, I would suggest taking at least one semester of Italian at Bowdoin. The Italian Department at Bowdoin is incredible, and I felt less overwhelmed going into the abroad experience knowing a basic level of Italian. On the traveling front, I would suggest seeing as much of Italy as possible, since there are so many different and fascingating cities to see in order to fully understand the differences in Italian culture as they vary based on location.