FLORENCE STUDY ABROAD

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					Study Abroad Student Stories about Italy



Italy List in Order of Appearance

Kristopher Jackson – 08 Summer

Michael Savarese - 08 Summer

Adam Haratz – 08 Summer

Jessica Ball – 08 Summer

Jason Freeman – 08 Summer

Christina Lindsey – 08 Summer

Amanda Klaus – 08 Summer

Danielle Colte – 07 Summer

Tiffany Hahn – 07 Summer

Kelly Reynolds – 07 Summer

Alexandra Ricco – 07 Summer

Anthony Mezzasalma – 07 Summer

Shannon Monaco – 07 Summer

Jesenia Rivera – 07 Summer

Desarae D’Amadeo – 07 Summer

Janelle Brady – 07 Summer
       Studying abroad in Italy was probably one of the smartest things that I have opted

to do during my college career. In college, as a student, one is granted a certain degree of

independence. Sure, the average college student makes their own schedule, choose their

own courses, live independently, and make many other choices on his or her own. While

studying abroad in Italy, I was granted the opportunity not only to live independently, but

granted the opportunity to prove that I could survive if tomorrow I was placed in an

environment foreign to me. While studying abroad, one is most definitely granted the

opportunity to learn a great deal about culture, people, language, and do an immense

amount of travel. However, the study abroad student also learns the importance of

budgeting ones funds, grocery shopping, how to cook and clean for oneself, how to

effectively use a map to get from point A to point B, and how to take care of ones own

travel arrangements. For my fellow travelers and I, this experience served as an

opportunity for an immense amount of learning not only about of Italian culture, but also

about ourselves. After observing my peers and reflecting on my time in Italy, I have no

doubts that the majority of Monmouth students who lived in Italy with me during this

time period learned many of the same skills as myself, and would be just as successful

again if given the opportunity.

       When the plane touched down in Florence the first three things that greeted me

were: immense heat, an apartment that looked like it was from the 19th century, and a 45-

minute walk to school. Certainly these things were less than ideal, and at first were

slightly overwhelming. The best advice I can give to any study abroad student is to keep

telling him or herself, “Its all part of the experience… in 5 weeks, I will be wishing I was

back here.” This is most assuredly the case. Things are very different, yes. However,
instead of focusing on how the differences are negative, I would challenge study abroad

students to focus on the differences and view them as a learning opportunity. Not

everyone has waited two hours for a bill in an Italian restaurant (not realizing that if

someone does not ask for the check, it’s not coming), not everyone has fought with an

Italian washing machine, and certainly not everyone has had been given the opportunity

to be harassed by gypsies. These things, although frustrating at the time, make me smile

now as I reflect on my experience. I am so happy that I took the time to take it all in,

because even still I have a clear picture of every day that I spent in that city. Do not waste

time focusing on the negative aspects of this trip, it’s too short!

       I have a few pieces of simple advice for students traveling to Italy next year. The

first: travel! Florence is a beautiful city, but you will see plenty of it. Europe is a huge

place, and it is far less expensive to travel around Europe than it is to fly from the US to

any of the other destinations that you have in mind. During my time in Italy I was granted

the opportunity to visit Rome, Venice and Pisa; however, I also spent a weekend in

Romania and in Paris. I would also encourage students who are contemplating travel to

book their travel far in advance when they know they are going abroad. Booking flights

for the month of July last minute can be expensive; however, if you book your flights on

Easyjet, Ryanair, or Transavia (all from the Pisa airport) far enough in advance, you can

save a small fortune. My second piece of advice is to make friends with some locals.

Florence is a city that is becoming Americanized rather quickly. Sure, there is a plethora

of old buildings and statues and Italian speaking people. There are also a lot of English

speaking people, American-style restaurants, and souvenir stands on every corner to

make sure that the needs of foreigners traveling in Florence are met. By meeting natives
and seeing the city through their eyes, you are granted an opportunity to do things that are

more authentic, which makes the experience that much more enjoyable.



Kristopher Jackson

08 Summer



        Leaving for the airport from my sisters wedding was quite difficult as I felt mixed

emotions about parting my family and friends to embark on an adventure thousands of

miles away. In fact, during the 15 hours of sleep deprived travel I thought I had made a

big mistake. A travel partner and I landed in Florence and took a crazy taxi ride to her

apartment to get my keys. I hailed another cab, rode thought the main part of Florence,

passing the Duomo and other historic buildings for the first time, totally amazed, and

arrived at my street, if you want to call it a street. My alleyway was a little intimidating a

first, especially at 9pm after dark, with an older man from India mumbling words to

himself. I put my key into door number 4 and it did not work. I thought to myself great,

American college student in a foreign country, on a sketchy alleyway with a few

thousand dollars worth of things, cant get into his apartment, not a good look. As I

walked further into the alleyway I found another apartment number 4. Sure enough my

key worked on this door and I was at my new home at last. I guess I never got the memo

that there are red and black addresses, oh well, part of the experience. I moved my

belongings into my bedroom, changed, and met up with friends for a late dinner. I was in

Italy at last.
        To be honest, the first night was hard, due to the time change and the mixed

emotions I was feeling. Dawn brought a new day forth at 5am, since I could not sleep

with the noise of a restaurant kitchen below our window. Once ready for my first day of

classes I left my new home to find a cup of coffee and some food. I found a little café

down the block and had an amazing cappuccino and a pastry, I felt much better. I walked

to LDM passing little shops, museums, cathedrals, and of course the Duomo. I found my

class room with relative ease and my Prof. Soldi for the Grand Tour Class. She was a

very nice lady, a true Florentine that loved her job. Once I got out of a fun, encouraging

class, I got some lunch and began to wonder around Florence. At that moment I finally

was happy that I made the decision to study abroad in Italy.

        Florence was truly and amazing city. There is so much to see and do. Every part

of the city seems like a work of art. I can’t even list all of the places I visited while in

Florence. If you go there you must try to see as much as you can. Especially early in the

trip because you will get burnt out toward the last week, so try not to leave things till the

end. The Duomo is HUGE, you can see if from almost every part of the city. Santa Croce

Cathedral is amazing as well. David, is the central figure of Florence. You can find

statues of him around the entire city. Michelangelo’s David is the most amazing sculpture

I have ever seen. Every detail of David’s body is perfect and his right hand shows the

veins as if you were looking at a live body. I would also recommend going to Piazza

Michelangelo and other towns outside of the city to look at Florence proper from a

distance.

        The food in Florence was good. Coming from an Italian background from Sicily

used to southern Italy cuisine, the food in Florence was different from the Italian food I
am used to. The best place in my opinion to find good food is to find a place off the

beaten path that does not have pictures on the menu, and seem like an authentic Italian

place. The nightlife in Florence is Vast. One evening you can go with friends to get a

beer at a local pub, the next you can go club hopping, then on a different night you can

get coffee and gelato and enjoy the many free outdoor concerts that happen all over the

city. Keep and open mind, try new things, and have fun. As long as you have common

sense the city is very safe. I would also recommend the Tuscany Bike Tour, it a great day

outside of Florence. You get to taste wine and olive oil made at a local vineyard. Don’t

worry about being a good biker, it is easy, and if you’re not in the mood to ride they

follow you with vans. The two guys that run the tour are really cool and will even give

you a list of places they recommend to go out at night. Also, take advantage of “Italian

happy hour”, you pay for one drink and are allowed to have free appetizers, it’s a great

deal.

        Perhaps the best part of studying abroad in Italy is the weekend trips. My class

schedule ran Monday to Thursday, leaving plenty of time for travel. Traveling on the

train is very easy and the trains run pretty close to schedule unless there is a strike. The

first weekend I spent in Venice. Venice was really amazing, almost like a magical city. St

Maker’s Square was really cool, and the cathedral was even more amazing. The Rialto

Bridge is like a glorified version of the Ponte Vechio. The Merano Glass Factory was

great as well since you are able to watch the artists blow glass. Also, take a gondola ride,

it may be a little expensive but defiantly well worth it in the end.

        The second weekend I spent in Rome. Rome was amazing! Much larger than

Florence and much more to see. The Coliseum is the best structure I have ever seen. It is
amazing how they built such a structure so long ago. The Vatican is truly amazing as

well. The museum is enormous with over 7km of hallway. The Sistine Chapel was

breathtaking; however, if they did not let as many people into the chapel at one time if

would be even more amazing. I would highly recommend a tour of both the Coliseum

and the Vatican. Discover Rome was a great tour company that provided student rates.

While in Rome enjoy the other sights such as the Spanish steps, Trevy fountain,

Pantheon, and all of the amazing piazzas. If you have time go to the bone church near

Piazza Bernini. The night life in Rome is a lot of fun as well. Go the Island on the Tiber;

it’s a great place for food and nightlife. I was fortunate enough to stay with friends of a

professor of mine while in Rome which made the experience even more enjoyable.

       The third weekend I traveled to Sorrento. This trip was by far my favorite.

Sorrento is a great town with southern Italian hospitality and cuisine. The view of the

Gulf of Naples is spectacular. During this trip I was able to go diving in Nariño,

sightseeing in Amalfi, Positano, and Priano, explore Pompeii, climb Mt. Vesuvius, and

even see Capri. It was all so amazing, I cannot even describe the feelings I felt when I

was there, I did not want to leave. If you’re in Italy you have to visit these places. (Please

contact me if you would like info or picture form this astonishing area of the world).

       As my last days in Florence came to a close, I finished my classes strong, was

able to see the things that I missed, and enjoyed my time with my new friends from

Monmouth as well as around the world. Since my travel plans were different from the

other MU students, I went home through Paris, and was able to spend four days in Paris.

Paris was one of the nicest cities I have even been too. It is an inspiring, romantic, fun

place. While in Paris I saw the Louvre, Notre Dame, the end of the Tour De France, the
Eiffel Tower and other amazing sights. The Tour De France was really cool, as I am an

avid cyclist at home. Also, contrary to popular thought, the people and Paris were really

nice. I would highly recommend visiting Paris.

        In the end my time abroad was spectacular. Italy is defiantly a place that one must

visit at least once in their life. I am really glad that I decided to study abroad. This trip

will influence me and my life for years to come. I saw the world’s best art and

architecture, met many Italians that I will be friends with for a lifetime, got close with a

number of students from MU that I will be close friends with forever, and was able to live

in rather than visit another country for a month. I look forward to seeing my pictures

years from now to bring back memories and emotions of July 2008.



Michael Savarese

08 Summer




        I find it possible to characterize my entire summer abroad through one day’s

experience. On the weekend after our Monmouth group trip to Assisi, I visited my friend

at her school in Arezzo. By this point in my trip, I was more than comfortable as a

resident of Firenze. I had already witnessed my share of the expected “negatives”.

Motorcycles, tourists, and midnight shouts were all part of my new life. The town of

Arezzo was a vastly different experience from the urban confines of Firenze.

Immediately upon my arrival from the train, I was struck by how “empty” Arezzo

appeared. There were a few pedestrians and even fewer motor vehicles. Firenze could
never produce such peaceful tranquility. Arezzo was a welcome reprieve, especially from

the tourists. During my day’s travels, I encountered very few foreigners, most of whom

were American students. Americans in Firenze never irritated me, but I could not tolerate

large tour groups, who interrupted my emotional connection to the city’s art and

architecture.

       My day of travel through Arezzo by chance occurred on the first Sunday of the

month. Each month on this day the city holds an antique show in the main piazza, the

Piazza Grande. The show attracted a good-sized crowd, though not large by my

experience. Since many citizens of Arezzo were present, the antique show was an

excellent opportunity for me to view cultural interactions of non-urban Italians. Shop

owners were very friendly, not only toward my friend and me, but also toward local

Italians. Although our grip on the language was not the strongest, locals enthusiastically

spoke to us in Italian. Unlike in Firenze, we were not hassled for browsing and strolling

among antique stands. The aura of the scene was relaxed and refreshing; everyone

seemed to have a good time. Perhaps Italians in Arezzo truly were a friendlier crowd.

Maybe the prospect of money from the antique show had a hand in that effort.

       After an incredible lunch, I followed my friend from the Piazza Grande to an

excellent viewpoint of the city. She guided me through a beautiful park with one looming

flaw. In the center was a large statue, which was covered with graffiti. I could not believe

people could do such a destructive act to a piece of art. The statue now was only a

shadow of its former self.

       My journey to see the magnificent sight of Arezzo took a huge and entertaining

detour on the path beyond the park statue. Along the way we encountered two men
dressed in medieval garb. As peculiar as they looked, I did not understand why they were

dressed as such until my friend and I reached the top of the hill. Along the path, beautiful

trees and vegetation surrounded us. Many Italians lay beneath the trees, enjoying the sun

and scenery. Light music from the film Braveheart played through speakers. The genre of

the music foreshadowed the surprise to come.

       At the top of the hill stood a clearing, where many people were gathered. Every

one of them wore medieval-style clothing. Some men carried realistic weapons, such as

swords and bows. There was an archery competition. This was the big sport for the men,

as most of them were either observing or participating. The competition was fierce.

Although I could not understand what they said, I clearly could tell all enjoyed

themselves tremendously. My friend and I could not believe that we came upon an Italian

renaissance faire. We had never been taken by surprise in such a way. The scene on the

hill made me laugh, but after a moment, I realized the satisfaction the Italians received

from the faire. The faire proved to be an important part of my day’s traveling in Arezzo.

       Italy is not just major cities and beach resorts. The heart of Italy is nestled on the

road less traveled. There is far more to learn about the country than gelato and Gothic

churches. The best places to discover are ones not listed in guidebooks. Go off the

beaten path, and find lifetime memories. Trust me; this advice will make all the

difference.



Adam Haratz

08 Summer
       I’m not really even sure where to begin with this essay. I have had so many

wonderful and fulfilling experiences that I’m not sure which ones are the most important

or which ones will stand out the most. It is difficult to say which experiences have had a

lasting impression, I would say all of them, but the most important experience is the

amount of self growth that I have experienced from this trip.

       I came to Italy as a first time traveler; I had never been outside of the Country

before, or away from home or even on an airplane. My decision to study abroad was a

giant leap of faith for me and I wasn’t really sure how It was going to be, or what I

should expect. I learned some very valuable lessons about myself over these four weeks

that I will never forget. I came to Italy scared, timid and insecure. I sat in Newark

airport holding back tears a month ago. Now I’m on an airplane home feeling fulfilled

that I have done something extraordinary.

       I have learned to trust myself, and I am a more confident person. I no longer feel

the need to rely on other people for advice or follow them in what they are doing. I was

able to experience making my own decisions and not be afraid of them or the

consequences of them. At home I hate being lost; I often panic and become really upset.

I have been lost more times this month than I’m sure I will ever be. However I was ok

with it. I soon learned that I was actually more rational than I thought. I found myself

being able to follow signs in a different language, eavesdrop on the people on the train in

order to learn helpful phrases that can be useful as well as keeping my cool when faced

with a dilemma.

       During last weekend my roommate and I decided to go visit Pompeii. We ended

up on the wrong train, stuck in Naples, walking down a highway for a mile and a half. If
this had happened the first week I’m sure I would have wanted to hop on the next plane

home. However, by that time I had learned that the world was not going to end if we got

on the wrong train. It is a matter of thinking logically and remaining calm which I

usually am never able to do at home.

       Aside from these important lessons, I learned some quirky things about myself as

well. I discovered that I really don’t like to drink, and one glass of wine is quite enough.

I am a compulsive shoe shopper at home and was planning on doing the same thing when

I got to Italy. However, I soon learned that in order to make it through the month I would

have to budget money for food, for travel, for school books and etc. I will be 100 times

more careful with my money after this experience.

       I feel like I can write forever about what I had learned. I also learned that I really

enjoy writing. I kept a journal while I was in Italy and I’m very thankful I did. It is

really interesting to read back my notes on the first day about how I was hot, tired,

hungry, and lost, and then to read the last few pages that were more like ‘we got really

lost today and ended up finding this really great gelato place, it was awesome’ I can’t

believe the change in myself and I really recommend studying abroad to anyone.

       No way else do you have to learn about yourself so quickly. There is nobody to

take care of you or tell you what to do, so you have to think on your feet. I really am so

thankful that I did this. I’ve seen so many beautiful things and I’ve learned that I am also

beautiful. I am beautiful because through this trip I was able to reflect on myself and

really focus on what I thought. It was really wonderful and I’m so thankful that I had this

wonderful opportunity.
       I missed everyone at home and I’m looking forward to landing in a few hours, but

I think that Italy and especially Florence will always have a place in my heart.



Jessica Ball

08 Summer




“The vino is cheap and the Duomo never closes.”~ Me



       Studying in Florence, Italy was the best month of my life. Italy is a truly beautiful

place. The people there are friendly as long as you don’t disrespect them and they are

always there to lend a helping hand. Likewise, the group that I went with was some of the

best people I’ve ever known and I am happy that I have something that I can share with

each and every one of them. While studying I learned several things about the Italian

culture, the beautiful landscape, and more importantly I learned a great deal about myself.

       The Italian culture is just as beautiful as the landscape that surrounded us. While

there I studied Super Intensive Italian for Beginners. They didn’t lie when the school said

Super Intensive. The class wasn’t extremely difficult but it was challenging. However, I

did learn a ton. By the end of 3 weeks of the class I was able to have small talk in Italian

with some of the Italian native people. This to me was a lot of fun. My teacher Professor

Francesco was a smart and fun professor. He kept the class very interesting. He did a

great job. Class at 9 am after a long night was always a mission, but he made it enjoyable.

He told us that the Italian language was the voice of the angels. I believe it.
       While in Italy I also expanded my culinary pallet. I went to Italy with an open

mind and was ready to try anything. While there I ate wild boar. Surprisingly I have to

admit it was delicious. I also ate a lot of gelato. Gelato is so good and it is everywhere

around Florence. Everybody always thinks they found the best gelato place it was pretty

funny. The place that we thought was the best was a place called Gromes it was right by

the Duomo.

       The Duomo was the center of Florence. This is just one part of the Italian

landscape that is truly breath taking. Every where you look in Florence was a work of art.

All of the churches in the piazzas were all made by hand in the 14th and 15th centuries.

That to me was amazing. The sunset at the Ponte Vecchio is amazing. Likewise, the

sunset at the Piazza di Michelangelo is unbelievable. Words and pictures don’t do justice

to the truly breath taking views that you see as you travel around Italy.

       Throughout this experience I learned a great deal about myself. When we first

arrived in Florence there was a huge culture shock. I was in a new place totally unrelated

to everything I was accustomed to. The part that I really had a problem adjusting to was

the time change. I couldn’t stand that when I was waking up to go to school everyone I

know was still fast asleep. I also got very frustrated not knowing my way around the city.

These problems were relatively minuet. It took me about a week to get over everything

and beyond doubt had the best time of my life, hands down.

       Italy study abroad in general was a great learning experience. The Italian culture

is one that I enjoyed taking in. The scenery was the most beautiful views I have ever

seen. Most importantly I expanded my knowledge of the world and what I knew about

myself and in the process became friends with some great people. The people that I met
on this trip were the best group I could have traveled with. I wouldn’t change the people I

went with for the world. The study abroad program in Florence, Italy was a life altering

experience. I recommend it to anyone and everyone.



Jason Freeman

08 Summer




       I have a comfort zone and I have never wandered outside of it before. I love to

plan my days out and to follow a schedule. I come home most weekends from college

because I miss my family, and I only live 45 minutes away. I knew I needed to step out

of my comfort zone and become more independent and for once stop planning and just go

with the flow. Studying abroad in Italy for a month was the perfect opportunity for me to

do this. No excuses to come home and no way of knowing where everything was and

plan what I was going to do everyday.

       I thought as our departure grew nearer that I would become more and more

nervous. I was going to be celebrating my 21st birthday in Italy and was anxious I was

going to be homesick without my friends and family wishing me well. I worried I wasn’t

going to make friends while abroad; I had a friend or two going but I wanted to meet new

people. I was surprised to find that I became more excited and less nervous to leave. I

made friends instantly and the group we traveled with was always together laughing and

having a good time. We all were always in contact with each other and hardly a day went
by that we didn’t hang out. I clicked with so many of them instantly and became so close

with them by the time the trip was over.

       Although I worried about a few things while abroad I learned to take things as

they come and not to worry about the little things as much. One of the girls I became

friends with on the trip taught me that things always work themselves out. Don’t worry

and stress about every situation- as my dad kept telling me, “Just go with the flow over

there!” I took his advice and I didn’t forget to study hard as well. School and traveling

kept me so busy that there wasn’t time to be homesick. There was always something to

do, somewhere to go, or someone to see. I don’t think anything could top this trip and I

would go back in an instant if the opportunity arose.



Christina Lindsey

08 Summer



       I can easily say that my trip to Florence was the single greatest thing that has ever

happened in my life. There are many reasons for this. I liked the courses that I took, I

made better friends then I have at home, I had more fun than I ever have before and most

importantly this trip changed my view on pretty much everything I have ever known.

       The two courses that I took were Introduction to Classical Photography and

Hidden meaning in Renaissance Art. I have taken a few photography classes before and

have always had an interest in it. I knew most of the principles that we learned in the

class, though I was a little rusty. But how many people can say that they have taken a

photography course in Italy. There are so many beautiful subjects to document when
traveling abroad. Much of the time in class was spent in the dark room, but also there

were times that we went out and walked around to see great places to shoot. This class

also pushed me to soak in all of my surroundings looking for the perfect shot, so I do

believe that I noticed many more details then I would have without this class. Now I will

forever have these black and white pictures to look back on and be a part of my art

portfolio. Hidden meanings in Renaissance art was interesting too. I am an artist and

have been studying thumbnail size pictures of famous works of art for five and a half

years (Yes I’m a super senior). Finally in this course I got the chance to learn what these

paintings really represent, and see some of them in real life. My only complaint in the

class was that the teacher was a little hard to understand.

        I went on this trip only knowing one person who was going and it wasn’t even a

good friend just a friend from class. Before I went I was nervous about the other students

that would be going with me, and even after I met some of them at meetings at

Monmouth I was still a little apprehensive. Now when I come back to Monmouth for my

last semester, I will have an entirely new group of friends, some that I truly consider to be

better friends than I have in my home town. We experienced so many things together

and created such tight bonds. Not only did I make friends from Monmouth but I made

friends from all over the world, some who I will never speak to again and some that I

will. However most of the people that I met had some small impact on my life and will

never be forgotten.

        Every weekend I traveled somewhere with my friends and got to see things I have

only seen in pictures. If only pictures could ever really express what it is like in real life.

I went to Asissi, Rome, Cinque Terre, Sorrento and Capri. Only one word to describe it
all… Amazing! My favorite place of all was Capri. It is truly the most beautiful place I

have ever imagined and I will be back there at some point in my life.

       On this trip I finally got a chance to experience another culture. This actually

made me realize how much I hate our culture. The people in Italy lead longer and

happier lives than we do in America. They are much more relaxed, which sometimes is

annoying if you are in a rush. In the end they have less stress than we do here in this rat

race we all live in. A lot of things in my life have changed from this trip including my

eating habits, exercise, motivation and all around view on people. The most important

thing that I will take from this trip is my view of myself. While in Italy I went through

some troubled times with things at home and I am glad that it all happened because it all

really caused me to develop a sense of independence and true happiness within myself,

which I have never had before.

       Over all this trip truly was the best thing that has ever happened to me and I

would recommend that anyone who has the opportunity, to go no matter how scared you

may be because in the end you will be thankful. I will forever remember this trip as the

greatest month of my life and I believe that my life will be much happier and more

successful after having gone through the changes that I did.



Thomas Russo

08 Summer
       When ever anyone asks me how my trip to Italy was, I always answer,

“Absolutely amazing!” The sights, the sounds, the people, the food…everything not

only met my expectations – they exceeded them. From the moment of arrival I was

surprised at how well taken care of we all were, starting with our accommodations. The

apartment we were set up with was in a nice location and had everything one could need.

       While in Florence (Firenze) I took an Art Restoration course. It was more for my

own personal interest than for fulfilling a particular requirement. I was privy to the

mentorship of one of the most talented and well-known professors in the restoration

world, Lorenzo Cassamente. Our class was small, only three of us, and he was very easy

to learn from (once you got used to the accent). He was very easy going and patient. It

was only the second day there that we were handed our cleaning materials and began

restoring a 17th century painting. We worked on 15th century frescos, 17th century

wooden doors, statues and various other priceless pieces. He also took us to places that

were off limits to tourists. One of those places was a small room that contained sketches

by Michelangelo on its walls.

       I took advantage of my time off there as much as possible. I traveled to Assisi,

Sienna, Rome, Venice, Calabria (one week with my class) and many other places within

the country. Traveling was very easy. You do not have to speak the language in order to

get around, but it definitely helps.

       On days that would not allow travel to far places, I explored the city around me.

A month was not enough time to experience it all. Firenze is an incredible city, with an

amazing history.
       I wish I could pinpoint any one memory that stuck out the most, but I cannot.

Everyday spent there was equally as memorable. The weather was absolutely beautiful.

It only rained twice the entire time I was there, once lightly during the day (for about ten

minutes) and once at night.

       The city during the day was very much alive. I was there during the month of

July, which is one of the peak tourist months. Even so, I never had a problem getting into

the museums, sculpture gardens, or any other place I desired to see. I took advantage,

though, of making reservations. The restaurants and nightlife were also great.

       Thanks to the wonderful staff in the study abroad office at MU my time in Italy

went smoothly. Any issues or questions I had were taken care of and answered in a

timely fashion. I never felt as though I was abandoned. In talking with other students

from various schools I realized just how well we were taken care of. From our visas and

passports to our housing issues, we were basically spoon-fed. Nearly everyone I spoke

with had to handle those things on his or her own.

       I had a wonderful time in Italy. I learned much about myself and about a part of

the world I had always been curious about. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity

and I will be forever thankful that I took advantage of it.



Jesenia Rivera

07 Summer
          My name is Desarae D’Amadeo and I went on the first summer study abroad

session to Florence Italy. Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. I am the

type of girl that is pretty shy and basically a homebody. Growing up I never really

wanted to go away to college, and even though Monmouth is a half hour away from

home, it was still a big step for me. Coming to college was the best decision that I have

ever made, because it allowed me to grow as an individual. After living away from home

for three years I started to become much more independent than I ever was. Every year

one of my friends would study abroad for the semester and I would always envy that they

had the guts to go away and experience such an amazing opportunity. Then my closest

friend went away to Florence, Italy and hearing from her every week made me want to go

more and more. Knowing that I did not want to go away for four months, when I saw the

email for summer session study abroad I was ecstatic. Finally, this was my opportunity to

experience study abroad in a time period that was just right for me! Yes! I was very

scared, but I knew this would be such an amazing experience. I thought to myself, if

living a half hour away could benefit me so much, then living in another country

especially Italy, where my family is from, could do nothing but make me an even better

person.

          Arriving in Italy was the most indescribable experience ever! I have never felt so

many things at one time. I was extremely excited, happy, tired, anxious, and most of all

scared! But even though I felt all these things, I knew from the moment I landed it was

going to be the best thing that had ever happened to me. We got to our apartment on

Sant’ Antonino, and it was unlike anything I had seen before. The cobblestone streets,

cars, motorcycles, bikes family owned businesses within steps from my door, and people
everywhere! It was like a scene out of the movies and I could not believe that I was going

to be able to live here every day for a month! My apartment was so great. It had these

amazing old style high ceilings, yes the air conditioning, or lack thereof was tough, but

come on, I had three balconies overlooking a court yard! My apartment was so close to

the school, and it was great! It was very different than American classes, and I loved it!

The classes were so laid back and the professors were so incredible! I learned so many

new things in my classes that I will take with me forever. Photography was by far my

favorite class. It allowed me to take black and white pictures of Florence that I would

have never even seen if it wasn’t for this class. It opened my eyes to an entirely different

view point, and the best part is I have these pictures to keep with me as a memento of my

trip forever!

        The part of my trip that was even better than my apartment and classes was the

traveling! I went to so many unbelievable places that I will never forget. I stayed in Italy

the entire time. I my opinion, this is the best because there is only one month and during

the week you will be in classes. In my travels, some of the places I went to were:

Tuscany, Capri, Sorrento, Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast, Postiano, Pompeii, and Rome.

Each place was gorgeous and very different from anything in America. Two trips I went

on that were the most note worthy, were the Tuscany Bike Tour and Cinque Terre.

During the Tuscany bike tour, we met some locals that were hysterical. First off, driving

there was an experience in itself. Let me start off by mentioning there are really no

speed limits in Italy, or ones they enforce anyway! These two men took us on a roller

coaster ride up to the hills of Tuscany! It was the most hysterical drive I have ever taken

and we hadn’t t even arrived in Tuscany yet. The bike tour was amazing, I was able to
experience the beautiful country side at a bike riding speed, and it was so beautiful. I

visited a Dutch and Dutchesses castle, which was a vineyard, and I was able to sample

the wine and oil. After the ride, we had dinner at a local spot, which was beyond beautiful

and not to mention tasty too. The food in Italy was out of this world! It doesn’t matter

what I ate, everything was just worlds better than it is at home! Especially the chocolate

soufflé from Ciro and Sons, which you have to go to, it is right next to Lorenzo Di

Medici! Cinque Terre, was also the best time I have ever had in my life. We stood in a

villa right off the water, and it was unreal. The sequence of events to find the villa was

too hysterical and the sleeping arrangements were one better! Looking back on it, it was

the most hysterical time of my life, and I wouldn’t have changed that trip for the world!

The beaches were breath taking, and I don’t even know how anything that beautiful

exists! One thing that sticks out in my mind was the toilets! Yes, the toilets! I have never

seen such a thing, and till this day I still don’t understand it! Basically the public

restrooms were toilets built into the floor, and they were actually flush to the floor! All

there was little grip spots to stand on and that was it. Being a girl, the logistics of it didn’t

really make sense, and yes I double checked to make sure I wasn’t in the men’s room!

Over all Cinque Terre was amazing, and I would go back in a second, crazy toilets and

all!

        Over all Italy was just incredible! There were many differences from home, but

this is to be expected, because you in a completely different part of the world. Sometimes

you had to pay 50 euro cents to use the bathroom, businesses break and close during the

day, and finding a bagel will send you on a 20 minute walk! The people were also very

different as well. Just like home you have your people who are very nice, and there are
still those same mean people, just like here! Being a girl, one major thing that took some

getting used to, was how men treated you. Be ready to get cat called and whistled at A

LOT! You do get used to it, but it was really a strange experience. It was so different then

at home. Being a New Jersey girl, if a guy did that, he would get a comment back that we

won’t repeat in this essay, but in Italy you can’t do that. In the beginning it took a lot of

will power not to respond back, but like anything else you get used to it and ignoring it

becomes second nature. I let myself be free there and live life the way the Italians do, I

tried rabbit, which surprisingly was really really good! Everything was so different, but

that difference was so great and refreshing! It made me realize that the American way of

life is NOT the only way of life, nor the best. In fact, being in Italy for a month truly

made me question which way I liked better. Italy was just the best experience in my life

so far. I recommend that you seize the opportunities Monmouth affords you, because

never in my life will I be able to experience something like this again, it was truly once in

a lifetime! I have grown so much because of that one month of my life. I am more

independent, cultured, and most importantly patient. Because of Italy I have gained a

much higher respect for other people and their cultures, and I cannot wait to travel to

other places to experience those as well. Italy will always hold a special place in my

heart, especially Florence. I left an old part of myself in Italy and gained a new and

improved part that I brought back with me to continue my life. I told myself that I would

leave that part behind, when I threw a euro in the Trevi Fountian, which by tradition is

done to connect you to Italy, which in turn will bring you back one day. I now have a part

of Italy with me that I will carry forever! Italy is so special to me because of this

experience and I know that one day I will indeed go back, hopefully with my family and
even one day children, so they can experience and understand what I hold so dear to me;

Italy.



Desarae D’Amadeo

07 Summer




         From the time I began classes at Monmouth University I have constantly heard

about the study abroad program, but I never thought it was for me. I never thought I

could be so far away from home for an entire semester. As much as I wanted to study

abroad I did not think I was capable of being gone for so long. But when I heard about

the new four week summer study abroad program in Florence, Italy, I decided to take a

plunge and do something I would normally not have done. The four weeks seemed like a

good amount of time but this was a decision that was out of my normal character. Even

though I have traveled abroad before, it was for a much shorter period of time and I

stayed in a hotel as opposed to living in an apartment. As my departure got closer, I was

really excited to be going to Italy but at the same time I was petrified.

         When I first arrived in Florence, it was hard to adjust to the different lifestyle, but

after a week, I felt like a true Italian. I made friends quickly and soon all of us became

inseparable. My roommate and I became close and we took trips every weekend as well

as a few day trips. We got to visit Rome, Milan, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Assisi, Naples,

Pompeii and Sorrento. I soon fell into a daily routine during the week when I had

classes. I enjoyed going to class and coming back to the apartment to have dinner with
my roommates. I also loved my apartment, it was a comfortable living space and it was

bigger then I expected it to be.

       Despite the great time I was having there were some things I had to get used to.

The first thing was the heat especially since we did not have air conditioning in the

apartment. The third week it did not go below 100 degrees and all we had was a small

fan in our room to keep us cool. The second thing I had to get used to was the noise from

all the people outside on the street and from the construction going on in the apartment

below us. People would make so much noise outside until late at night and construction

would begin early in the morning. The other thing I had to get used to was the flights of

stairs I had to climb to get to my apartment. I was on the third floor of the apartment

building and it was hard to walk up those stairs everyday in the heat. Although we had a

few bumps to get over, everything worked out extremely well and I had a great time.

       My study abroad experience was one I will never forget. It helped me open up to

new experiences and taught me a lot about who I am. I was the kind of person who was

afraid to step out of my comfort zone, but by accepting the opportunity to study in a

foreign country I learned that I can step out of my comfort zone and function by myself

in an unfamiliar setting. Before I left I did not know if I was strong enough to go away

for so long and leave everything behind me. Now, I can say I am strong enough to do

anything.



Janelle Brady

07 Summer
                       FLORENCE STUDY ABROAD GUIDE

Things to bring:
-travel pillow (brookestone has a good one- “foam pillow”
-travel size toiletries
-travel alarm
-converters and adapter
-purse that you can wear across body/messenger bag
- gum, granola bars, tootsie pops (any small snack you cant live without-they won’t have
it there and you will want small snacks when traveling)
-Advil (lots) or any other American prescription you need
-school supplies (pens, pencils, notebook, highlighters- 1, 5 subject is good)
-shout wipes
-duvet cover (the comforters are nasty you wont want to touch them- get a cheap one to
leave there)
-zip locks
-laundry bag

What not to bring:
-hairdryer/iron (can buy there and split with roommates for not $$$- they have ceramic!)
-any really nice shoes (they get ruined on the cobble stone plus you’ll want to buy)

If room:
-fabreeze


Florence:

Restaurants:
-Gusto Leo via proconsolo next to Vinci leather-
    • Great for lunch and dinner
    • Amazing salads, pizza, and soup (can ask to add things such as “verdure grillia”)
-Anna’s Bagels (via Ginori- you’ll find it)
    • Great place for bagels and coffee
    • Stefano is owner, loves American students
    • Right near school
-Antico Noe (via Oriuolo right after Ebbys then in passage)
    • The best make your own sandwiches you’ll ever have
-Lizzard (across from school bldg Giglio)
    • Quick and cheap
    • Make own salad
    • Bagels, sweets, muffins
    • The lady kind of seems like shes out of it and may be so beware, can take longer
       than should
-Za-Za (by Mercado centrale)
    • Has everything (soups, salad, pasta, chicken)
    • Great soup sampler
-Baldavino (near Santa Croce, via San Guiseppe)
    • Most amazing chocolate cake ever and other desserts
    • Change their menu monthly
    • Great salads, apps, and meals
    • Cool atmosphere
-Il Ghibalini (piazza San Pier Maggiore)
    • Great grilled chicken, soup, app bar, pizza
    • Tell them you’re a student for discount card
-yellow bar (V Proconsolo) we didn’t like that much
-Sushi (recommend eating when away but if in dire need these will do but $$$$)
    • Momoyama (across bridge Borgo San Frediano)
    • Eito
    • Roses
-Train Station lunch Buffet (don’t laugh)
    • For a healthy salad bar but better
    • Tuna with beans, fresh veggies, grilled veggies, meats, dessert etc
    • Cheap, but always a different price even if get same thing- strange
    • Just check it out, you’ll be there often, its behind the McDonalds/consession
        (you’ll be there often too)

For Better Eating:
-Aqua (V dela Vigna Vecchia)
    • Best place on earth quit simply stated (bring us back some)
    • Amazing samplers (salad, pasta) get for less ppl than are eating until the end when
        you are fat and eating for 5)
    • For meals, amazing grilled chicken, balsamic steak, blueberry steak
    • Nothing here is bad!!!
    • Make reservations, done in seatings (like many restaurants)
    • Great for bdays, parents, friends visiting
-La Giostra (Borgo de Pinti)
    • On the more expensive side, great for parents
    • Best quality food in Florence
    • Make a reservation
    • Give champagne and free apps
    • Great brie ravioli, seabass, spinach, lamb
-Il Latini
    • More for experience than food but must go
    • Family style Italian for set price
-Mama Gina (Borgo S. Jacopo)
-Bucco Mario (by Santa Maria Novella)
    • Great tiramisu
    • Whole artichokes are amazing
Snacks:
-dried fruit
    • Upstaired of Mercado centrale is dried fruit heaven, cheaper than other places
        (also nuts, fresh fruit and veggies)- must go check out even if don’t like food…so
        colorful and beautiful
    • Store by American Express- 2 diff stores, one lets you pick your own
-baby yogurt (via Dei Caliuloi- on way from Duomo to P. Signoria where fake David is)
    • Natural flavored yogurt which you add own flavor to
-gelato
    • Festival (V del Corso)- open till 11, tons of flavors
    • Vivoli
    • You can find them anywhere, they are all good

Supermarket:
-STANDA (aka “stand-up” you will sing that song every time you go there now)
   • Via Piertrepiana
   • Def an experience
   • Long lines so be prepared to fight for a basket
   • Remember you have to carry it home so be prepared to schlep
-smaller store across from Anna Bagels

Late Night: (this is not popular abroad but you will want to eat, there are only a few
places open late)
-secret bakery (down Via Ghibalina follow your nose for smells, seriously or there is one
which has pizza and sweets on V San Gallo)
    • Words cant even describe, its really not that good but you will ALWAYS want it
    • Go in and point to what you want bc they don’t speak any English and hate you
        bc you’re a loud American.
-Mavi (past Santa Croce walking towards water on right)
    • Also a must
    • Gyro with chicken and fries…satisfies your cravings but 10x better
    • Get it with fries in it and the sauce

Bars:
Astor Cafe (near Duomo)
Lions Fountain
Lochness (Via dei Benci - near S. Croce)
Faces (Via dei Geppi) - all you can drink every Wed.
Amodeus (sit outside when its warm out)
Robins Hood (Via dell’ Oriuolo - near Duomo)
Red Garder
BeBop (V. de Servi) Tues night = Italian beatles and super large beers

Clubs: (wear jackets and tank top, they all have coat checks)
-Yab (Via Sassetti) - Monday nights, very hot always wear tank, lots of sweaty italians
Andromeda (Via dei Cimatori) - Wednesday nights, ask for Fabrizio or Biaggio
Full - Up (Via della Vigna Vecchia) across from Aqua al 2
Dolce Zucchero
XO - Tuesday night 80’s night
Universale - 10 min. cab ride outside of city
Tenax - 10 min. cab ride outside of city
Central Park - outside of city, fun when its warm out


Danielle Colte
07 Summer
         I had always wanted to study abroad. With my demanding schedule of all year
round training and my track and field seasons running through both semesters, I thought
that studying abroad was not an option for me. When I was offered a chance to attend
Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, Italy in the summer of 2007, I couldn’t pass up the
chance. The summer session was the only time that I had available to experience such a
great opportunity.
         For the longest time, my family and I thought that we had a German background
since our last name is Hahn. We recently discovered that my great grandfather was
adopted when he was a baby into the Hahn family in Germany and came to the United
States a few years later. His original birth name was Thomas Vincetti but his name was
changed to Hahn. Once I was made aware of my change in background, I had always
wanted to visit Italy. When I saw that one of my options for studying abroad was Italy, it
was the perfect opportunity not only to visit the country, but to experience the actual
culture there and get a feel of the place in which my family was from. I definitely made
the best decision of my life.
         The months approaching the trip were complete excitement. I was in total
disbelief that I was going to be studying on the other side of the world. I had been to
Mexico once for a vacation with my family for a week but that was the only other time I
had been out of the country. This was going to be the first time that I went overseas and I
was so excited. The day that I was leaving was a whole other story. The entire day I was
anxious and nervous. I didn’t know the language at all other than a few words. I did know
a few people rather well that I was traveling with which eased my mind a bit but going to
a whole other country without my parents and living there for an entire month shook me
up a bit. I knew it was normal to feel this way and once I got on the airplane and began
my journey with my friends I was completely fine and couldn’t wait to get there.
         Once we arrived and got settled into our apartments, we had a few days to travel
before classes began. My friends and I took full advantage of that and traveled to Pisa to
see the leaning tower and we took a wine tasting/bike tour through Tuscany which began
with a walk through tour of a castle. I also visited Assisi, hiked the beaches and
mountains of Chinque Terre, rode a gondola through Venice, and saw the incredible sites
of Rome. Chinque Terre was by far the best thing I’ve ever done. If you are a beach lover
and an outdoors kind of person, Chinque Terre is definitely the place to visit. I had never
in my life seen something so beautiful. The Mediterranean was crystal clear, the palm
trees lines the cliffs along the coast along with cactuses and other plants that were
gorgeous. The views from on top of the cliffs were absolutely breath taking. Every trip I
took was an amazing adventure and allowed me to experience Italian culture first hand
and appreciate history. Assisi, Venice, and Rome taught me so much about the past and
sparked a new interest for me about it.
          I studied Intercultural Communications and Hidden Meanings to Renaissance
Art. Intercultural Communications enabled me to understand Italian culture much more
quickly than everyone else that was not familiar with it. It taught me the stereotypes in
which Italians have for Americans and brought to my attention the way in which Italians
live their lives which made it much easier to interact with the Italian people. For me,
being a Psychology major, I’m very interested in how people interact with one another.
By taking this class and experiencing Italian culture contributed to my learning in the
Psychology field. I learned from my Italian Intercultural Communications teacher and my
classmates from Mexico, that Americans are viewed as entirely too work oriented and not
family oriented enough. This opened my eyes to our working habits and I believe they are
right. I love my culture and I appreciate what it means to be an American but by hearing
the views of people from other cultures made me also appreciate their cultures as well. I
admire the fact that Italians “work to live” rather than “live to work” as we do. I also
admire how Mexican and Italian families hold their families as top priorities. Family time
is an extremely important aspect which is dwindling in our culture due to our working
habits.
         I was not familiar with art work at all which inspired me to take Hidden Meanings
to Renaissance Art. It was by far one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken. It
amazed me how every painting was put together so strategically to tell a story that no
normal individual could read. Every part of the paintings I learned about had a specific
meaning and significance to what was going on at the time the painting was done. By
taking this class, I learned to appreciate the hard work done by the Renaissance painters
and the history behind them.
         I feel as though living in Italy for an entire month completely changed my life.
I’m used to living by a schedule each and every day and rushing to get everything I need
to get done out of the way. I live a high paced life and sometimes I get lost in all of it not
allowing me to enjoy my surroundings. Since Italians’ lifestyles are more laid back, I
learned how to slow down life’s motions, stop, take all of it in, and appreciate where I am
and what I’m doing. Italians don’t live by a watch the way in which Americans do. They
have a long period in the middle of the day in which they eat lunch and take naps, they
stay and relax at restaurants after they eat, and they are always out and about the city.
They seem to fully enjoy life instead of going through the motions every day.
         Living in Italy also made me more aware of the importance of conserving energy
and that I could do without the many luxuries that I have in life. In Italy, people rely on
public transportation such as trains, busses, and taxis. Few people have their own cars.
Instead, they have vespas which require less gas and produce less pollution. They don’t
use air conditioning despite the extreme humidity and heat the summer months provide
and they don’t rely on dryers and dishwashers to make regular chores an easier task. This
was definitely something I had to get used to but once I arrived back home in the states, I
appreciated having those luxuries much more but I am definitely more aware of being
wasteful and I try to keep it to a minimum.
         Italians are also slow on technological advancements. It’s very difficult to access
the internet at times. Many Italians don’t have internet access because it seems as though
they view it as unnecessary. This was difficult to get used to at first because the internet
is such an important factor in our culture but I saw that Italians would rather spend their
time outside with friends and family enjoying the city rather than sitting inside in front of
a computer. In a big way, I agree with their lifestyle.
         It’s absolutely amazing how each and everyday I spent in Italy brought something
new to my life. Florence is very rich in culture and can be seen in the artwork that lines
the streets and the buildings that make up the city. I met so many people from different
countries around the world. I learned and incredible amount about these people and made
some great friends along the way. Not only did it allow me to meet people from foreign
countries but it also brought me closer to 20 or so other individuals that attend Monmouth
University. I’m sure I could speak for them in saying that that all of us had the time of
our lives and we will always have the memories we shared with each other for the rest of
our lives.
         The language barrier can be difficult at times. It is hard being in a place where
English is not the main language. One day a woman was trying to ask me how to get in
touch with our landlord and she knew strictly Italian. I was alone and by not having any
background in Italian at all, I had to rely on hand gestures to help her. I didn’t run into
problems with this too often. Most Italians know English or at the very least, they can
speak a few words in order to communicate with them. The next time I travel to a foreign
country, I will definitely become more familiarized with the native language.
         Of course, I could go on and on about the thousands of experiences that I had
while I was there. June 26th to July 28th of 2007 was by far the best experience of my
entire life. I made life long friends, went to unbelievable places, learned new things, and
all of it changed my life for the better. I became a more independent person and learned
that anything I want to do is achievable. I also learned that I’m going to make mistakes in
life but learn from each and every one of them. It enabled me to take a step back and
appreciate other cultures as well as my own. It is truly the greatest decision I’ve ever
made and I hope that someday I have the opportunity to something like this again!

Tiffany Hahn
Summer 2007
         One of my major goals up to this point in my life has been to travel as much as I
can while I am still young. However, as a generally conservative and introverted person,
I had not taken many steps outside of my comfort zone and lacked the confidence that
comes with age and life experience. Choosing to study abroad in Florence, Italy this past
summer has not only brought me closer to completing one of my life goals, but has
brought me many other surprising benefits as well.
         The most surprising part of my study abroad experience was, without a doubt, the
people that I met, interacted with, and now refuse to live without. From step one of the
process of studying abroad through to the very end, I have come across countless
individuals that display such kindness and good will that it makes me believe the world is
truly good. First and foremost, are the people that helped me prepare for the trip. These
folks include my friends both at home and at school who encouraged me to apply for the
program in Italy, despite my apprehension and anxiety about living in a foreign country
without the comforts and familiarity that I am surrounded by at home. My family, in
particular my parents, also assisted me in preparing for the trip by providing financial
support when I did not have enough money to pay for the program. And of course I
could not have left the United States without the helping hands of the study abroad office
personnel of Robyn Asaro and Maria Simonelli who took care of the legalities,
paperwork, and fielded countless questions of varying importance—everything from
where our classes would meet to where we could buy a hairdryer—before we even
stepped onto the plane.
         When I finally did arrive in Italy, I was once again comforted by the presence of
an astounding number of people in our host country whose hospitality reached to the
heavens. From the moment we stepped off the plane a representative from our school in
Florence, Lorenzo de Medici, was on hand to answer our questions and guide us safely to
our apartments. Once our classes began, we met our school advisor and our professors
who taught us immeasurable lessons both inside and outside of the classroom over the
next month. My Italian mafia professor used current mainstream films and relevant news
stories that he brought with him to class in order to apply his lessons. On the other hand,
my Art history professor took us on excursions to churches and museums to give us on-
site lectures about famous sculptures and architecture that remain popular after centuries
of existence. In addition to the people affiliated with our school in Italy, were the
amazing people of Italy that I met in my travels abroad. Italians are perhaps the most
warm, welcoming, and friendly people that I have ever met. Quite often when struggling
with making a request or asking a question in the Italian language, that person would
either help me with the pronunciation of words or attempt to assuage my discomfort by
speaking to me in English, even if they knew very little and were uncomfortable with a
language that was foreign to them as well.
         And most of all, the people whom I met in my group of travelers from Monmouth
University and those students we lived with from other schools were the most unexpected
surprise that I will treasure from this study abroad experience. While going through the
steps before going abroad everyone from classmates, students who studied abroad in the
past, and the study abroad staff at Monmouth kept telling the group how we would get to
know each other and probably be inseparable by the end of the trip. Being the shy,
stubborn person that I am, I became tired of hearing this over and over again and was
convinced that I had enough friends at home and at school and that was surely enough.
After all, I was not taking this trip to make friends, I had two of my roommates from
Monmouth with me and I would be there to experience the culture and take classes.
Little did I know that from the moment I stepped onto that plane—no!—the very moment
I stepped into that airport that my life would be changed. Instead of holding myself back
as I had resolved to do, I found myself embracing the chance to talk to new and
interesting people, and by the time the flight was over I had a couple new friends that
ended up living in the apartment below me in Florence. When we arrived, I met my
fourth roommate in our apartment who, throughout the four weeks, became a trusted
friend as well. Using these newfound companions I ventured out with a bit more
confidence, seeking more new people to befriend. Somehow, without aim or intent, I
found six new best friends that I could not live without. Traveling to Venice, taking a
bike tour in Tuscany, seeing the leaning tower in Pisa—none of these excursions would
have been complete without these people. And most amazing of all, I found myself sad
in their absence. On a weekend in Amsterdam with just two of my pals, I found myself
missing our friends in the other group who had traveled to Paris and those who had
stayed in Florence. How surprised I was to find that people I’ve only known for a couple
weeks could have such an impact on my life. Saying goodbye to the girls we bonded
with from Bentley College was perhaps the hardest of all. At our parting tears were shed,
hugs were given, and promises to visit each other in the fall were exchanged. The
experience that I had studying abroad in Florence, Italy would not have been the same
without these new friends. The memories that I made with these people will truly never
be forgotten.
         Therefore the most surprisingly and valuable thing that I will take away from this
study abroad experience is not only the completion of a life long goal at such a young
age, but most importantly the people and the friendships I have formed that I will cherish
into my old age. So even when my days of youth have passes me by, the people that I
have met through this program will be the friends who will continue to keep me young at
heart.

Kelly Reynolds
07 Summer
         I had the opportunity to study abroad this summer in Italy. It was by far the best
experience of my life. I have wanted to go to Italy ever since I was young because that is
where my father’s family is from. I wanted to study abroad my sophomore year in
London, but my schedule was always conflicting and I could never manage to make it
into the program. When the study abroad office opened the choice to study in Italy for a
month in the summer, I jumped on the opportunity immediately. I wrote my essay and
received my recommendations as quickly as I could because there was limited space.
After I got accepted into the program, I could not believe that my dream of going to Italy
would finally come true.
         I consider myself an independent and adventurous person but I am also very close
to my family and home. When I told my mother about getting into the program to study
abroad in Italy, my mom could not be any happier. She told me that I have to go and that
my dad would be so excited for me if I went. After my dad passed away my freshman
year, I told myself that I was going to do everything I could to make him proud and not
let him down. So with the help of my mom and siblings supporting me, I decided that I
was going to spend my summer month of July in Italy.
         Prior to leaving, the study abroad office was so helpful in taking care of each
student who was going to Italy. They had a checklist which was very useful for
everything that was needed to be handed in as well as what was needed for living. I felt
that I was very prepared for a lot of things when I was Italy because of the excellent
guidance of our study abroad program. I did not have to worry about transportation,
living arrangements, and schooling prior to leaving.
         Being a business major, having the opportunity to study abroad is so beneficial.
Companies will be more interested in an employee who is cultured and well rounded
individual. Studying abroad in another country helps you to have a better understanding
of the world and it lets you open up your mind to other possibilities and ways of doing
things. I have a better understanding of what I want to do in the business world mainly
because I went to Italy and I have taken so much of what I have learned from just a
month abroad. It is truthfully a life changing experience. I loved traveling to all the
different cities.
         Some of the places that I traveled to in Italy were Pisa, Cinque Terre, Venice,
Rome, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Positano, Capri, Pompeii, and all different parts of
Florence/Tuscany. I wish I was able to stay longer because there is so much more I want
to see. I was not homesick or anxious about being in a place so far away from home. I
loved every minute of my experience and because of studying abroad it has open so many
other doors for me that I thought did not seem possible. I hope you take the chance that I
did and jump on the opportunity to study abroad. If you are an individual who cannot
stay away from home long, then study abroad in Italy for just a month; however, if you
are more like me and love taking risks I suggest studying abroad for a semester in
London. You will have more time to travel and see all the wonderful things in Europe! I
wish I was able to do that in my prior semesters. It is truly an experience that you will
never forget and I consider myself so lucky that I was able to travel to Italy this
summer!!!

Alexandra Ricco
Summer ‘07 Florence, Italy
        Overall, I believe I had a very positive experience studying abroad in Italy.
Florence is such a beautiful city with so much to offer anyone who visits. Walking by the
Duomo every day to go to class was a good example of this. I found myself looking up
and marveling and the detail and grand scale of the building. The classes where very
good as well, I am very happy that I chose to take the intercultural communications class,
because I got to study different cultures first hand, which added to the effectiveness of the
class. For example, in a normal class we would discuss certain traditions, customs or
beliefs of different cultures. But taking the class in Italy was advantageous because we
would look around the class and see those different cultures because we had people from
all over the world in the class, including Italy, Mexico and students from all parts of the
United States. Furthermore, my Italian class was also more beneficial than it would have
been if I had taken it at Monmouth. Often the teacher would assign homework that would
require us to use the vocabulary and verbs in a real setting. For example, we learned
words such as cheese, meat, fish and bread then we would have to go to the market and
ask questions (in Italian of course) about the words we had just learned. This is an
assignment that would never be able to be assigned here at Monmouth. Another positive
aspect of the classes was the workload. The assignments were insightful but not
overbearing. It allowed you to learn a lot but not take away from time sightseeing and
traveling. I never found myself hitting the books hard before an exam and missing out on
some other event.
        Weekend trips were a blessing. The first weekend we planned a trip to Venice.
We jumped on a train and stayed two nights in a hotel. We had plenty of time to see the
sights and even got a chance to ride a gondola and have authentic Venetian cuisine. The
second weekend we had our trip to Assisi on Friday. I felt this was very beneficial
because no other school had a trip with all of its students. I would recommend that next
year we definitely have a “Monmouth only trip”. However, it should be the first weekend
the day after orientation. This way you can get a chance to know more Monmouth
students early in the trip, and more importantly you only kill one weekend instead of two.
Since the weekend is so short not being able to travel on Friday really limits your
traveling choices. But having orientation and the Monmouth trip in one weekend would
allow for three full weekends of traveling. Furthermore, informing students who wish to
travel more that they should consider not taking a language class because those classes
are five days a week as apposed to non-language classes which are 4 four days a week.
Having that extra day will allow for more traveling, but the language class was very
beneficial. My third weekend I had the pleasure of going to Paris, we toured the Louve
and got to see the Mona Lisa. We also had a chance to go up the Eiffel Tower. France
was a nice trip but its hard to see all Paris has to offer in one weekend. My final weekend
I went on the Rome trip which was organized by LDM. The trips organized by LDM are
very organized and stress free. I would highly recommend going on those trips. We saw
so much in such little time for a small price. The hotels they stay at are always nice
especially because they have air conditioning.
        The one thing I had a hard time adjusting to was having no air conditioning. I was
expecting having no air conditioning but since it was so hot I found myself sitting in my
apartment by the fan. My apartment had a nice breeze but we had to close the windows at
night because of mosquitoes and other insects.
        In conclusion, I had a very good time in Florence and believed I walked away a
better person because of it. I would definitely do it again if I had the chance. I learned
more about the culture, myself, and my fellow Monmouth students. Thanks for the
memories!

Anthony Mezzasalma
Summer 07
        Studying abroad in Florence, Italy was the most wonderful opportunity I have ever been
given. In those short four weeks, I had learned more about myself and the world than I ever
thought possible. Every minute of the trip was a learning experience, and I would do it again in a
heart beat. The two major things I learned on this trip were not lessons that could be taught in a
classroom. Through this experience I learned to always be open to the unfamiliar and that
patience truly is a virtue.

         Going to any foreign country is a challenge. Before our group left we were told multiple
times to not go to Italy and compare and judge the Italian culture. This is the best advice that I
received, and this would be the most important advice I would give someone else. I went to Italy
entirely open to learning about their culture, but I never thought that I would fall in love with it
like I did. The feeling that came over me almost daily in Italy was complete and utter
amazement. It was so unbelievable to me that I was walking down the same cobblestone streets
that Michelangelo walked on so long before. I went from reading and seeing movies about Rome
to actual being there and seeing everything with my own eyes. I stood in the same coliseum as
the gladiators did centuries ago, and though it is very old and not completely intact it still has the
same stairs and walls, it really is an indescribable feeling.

        Traveling in Italy was very challenging, but wholly worth it in the end. During the
experiences of our travels, is where I learned how to truly be patient. There is nothing harder
than being in an airport or train station and not seeing anything in your native language. It is very
frustrating trying to get the tickets to the train, knowing where the stop is, what train you are on,
and knowing where to go from the train station. The first weekend in Italy nine of us went on a
trip to Venice. It took us hours to get our tickets, and then the day of our trip we found our train
purely by luck. The three guys that went with us had gotten their tickets on a different day so
when the six of us girls arrived at the station in Venice we could not find them. They said that
they were looking at Gondolas and we looking at walls filled with graffiti. It ended up that we
got the wrong tickets, and we had to board another train to get to the San Luca stop. When we
arrived there after much confusion with the water taxi men, we realized that our hotel was on the
outskirts. We then had to go back on the train and get off at the same station that we originally
got off at. At this point everyone was frustrated, and we finally found our hotel. Although there
was a lot of confusion and stress we still found that we just had to be patient with each other and
just laugh. Venice ended up being my favorite place that we traveled to.

        Through this experience I made so many great friends not only from Monmouth, but
from all over. This was a once in a lifetime experience that I would not trade for the world.
Studying abroad in Florence not only left me with a thousand great memories, but also a new
found confidence in myself. I know that I can do anything now, and I will never be the person to
not do something because it is unfamiliar. I would recommend to anyone and everyone to study
abroad because it is not like any vacation, the city you live in truly becomes to feel like home.

Shannon Monaco
07 Summer

				
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