Discover Italy: Once in a Lifetime Experience

Caitlin Meehan, Reporter

Italy. The city of pizza, gelatos, wine and your new home when you study abroad in Perugia, Italy.

The study abroad trip will be held fall 2015 at the Umbra Institute.

The four-month trip enables students to take courses that directly transfer to their majors,  core or electives. Internships and independent studies are also available.

Studying abroad in Perugia gives students the opportunity to receive an authentic experience in Italian culture. Mauro Renna, Associate Director for Marketing Development at the Umbra Institute said the experience will “make you feel like you are part of the country.”

Italian language is a mandatory course so students can best understand the local people to get the most out of the experience studying in Perugia.  Other students will be Italian or international students, thus providing a good opportunity to improve and learn Italian.

The Umbra Institute has distinguished itself as provider of study abroad programs. Students learn both in the classroom and through community exchange programs within Perugia and its surrounding countryside.

Students can get evolved in a food studies program, film & media course, archeology, art, as well as English and psychology classes. “All courses you’re going to be taking will have field trips,” said Renna.

Students can also take part in pizza night, pizza making, gelato night, wine tasting, sports, cooking classes, volunteering and trips to the Amalfi coast.

 “We want you to be like a citizen of the city,” said Renna.

Housing will be in an apartment shared by two to six students, with a kitchen. There is no meal plan because students are encouraged to cook for themselves. There is a local market with freshly grown food, and there are plenty of local cafés and restaurants.

Taylor Rypp heard about the trip to Perugia and she said it would help students learn on many levels.  “It sounds interesting, in learning culture rather than just subject content.”

Another student Craig Siekierka says, “I think it’s a cool thing. It’s a great opportunity to learn about other cultures.”

Students from 100 other colleges will also participate.

Last time the trip to Italy was offered students went to Florence, which is only 70 miles north of Perugia. Senior speech-language pathology major, Hilary Hoover, said she enjoyed being able to immerse herself in the city around her.   “After class, I would either walk back to our flat and make lunch with fresh, locally grown food from the Mercato or walk the streets and find myself a small cafe to grab a bite to eat then traverse through Florence for the day, watch the people, listen to all of the different languages around me, and sit next to the Arno with the warm summer sun on my shoulders and a book in my hands.”

Senior, speech-language pathology major, Hilary Spryn, said she enjoyed learning during her free time.  “After class we got the rest of the day to ourselves to travel and sightsee. We tried to fit in as many sites as possible and did something different each day. We did a lot of mini day trips on our days off from class where we would get up early and catch a train. Some of the day trips we made were Pisa, Viareggio , a hiking trip to Cinque Terre – definitely my favorite trip – Lucca, Siena, and Rome.”

Students learned that one distinctly American difference, as compared to Italians, is that Americans designate certain sites as “historical.”  “In the US, we boast about our ‘historical sites. That doesn’t even come close to walking around a city where the future and the past blend together in harmony. Art and architecture and natural beauty wind together in a maze of cobblestone streets and that you can explore every day. A new adventure,” said Hoover.

“There’s always new and exciting places to be found. Even after being there a month and knowing the city very well there was still more to see and explore,” said Spryn.

Renna said one of the biggest difference in culture that students notice and like is the slower pace of Italian life.  “Everything is more relaxed, stores close down for lunch break called ‘la pausa,’ people take their time to do things. This is not a stress factor for students and students’ shock really depends on them and how they are willing to accept a new environment. So the culture difference sometimes are subtle and don’t really impact students directly and strongly also because they have our support in understanding the differences and deal with them.”

Hoover said study abroad was a wonderful experience. “I would encourage every student to have an out of US experience in college. It changes your life and your outlook on the world.” “I definitely feel more independent from going on the trip,” said Spryn.

Interested students should contact Professor Marguerite Roy at [email protected]

Additional information is available at For course list, visit

Students will need to talk to their advisors about schedule planning, organizers said.

Applications are due before Spring Break.