When I was choosing a study abroad program, I thought about what I wanted from the study abroad experience. My primary goal was to improve my Italian speaking and also experience authentic Italian culture. I focused on choosing programs that were not in major Americanized cities like Rome or Florence so that I would have to speak Italian. From there, I chose the Boston University Padua program. Padua/Padova is a small university city about half an hour west of Venice in Northern Italy. It was small enough of a city so that I would have to speak in Italian to get around but big enough so that I could still go to the supermarket or go shopping. Padova is the perfect city to meet local Italian university students. I padovani are very friendly, and I had many people come up to me and ask me questions, because they could tell that I was not a native Italian. The size, location, and atmosphere of Padova was perfect for me and helped me become more comfortable with speaking in Italian.
I enjoyed that fact that Boston University had a program that allowed me to take classes at the Universita' di Padova in addition to my courses at the Boston University center. It allowed me to interact with Italian students and get a big university experience. All students were required to live with a host family, which I really liked. It meant that I got to know an Italian family very well and had the chance to experience what everyday life in an Italian family was like. I also enjoyed that Padova was between the two major cities of Venice and Verona. It was easy to travel to Venice for a day and walk around for a few hours. There was so much to do that I never got bored! I would definitely recommend that students deciding to study abroad in Italy consider what they want from their experience and choosing smaller cities or towns like Padova if they are serious about learning a language.