University for Foreigners, Perugia
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Gabrielle Cilea

Major: Journalism, Italian
Minor: Global and International Studies
Hometown: Marlboro, NJ

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I consulted my Schreyer academic adviser about what study abroad program would be best fit for me, and we ultimately determined that this was the best one.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I am still studying in Perugia. Thus far, I have had an amazing time getting to know locals within the city and meeting students of all ages from around the world. I don't believe I will ever be exposed to such a diverse group of people for the rest of my life. These students are very invested in getting to know about American culture and make an effort to practice their English with me as well. Together, in class, we all have a common goal of trying to perfect our Italian. I have had such great help from my American counterpart, the Umbra Institute, in helping me discuss concerns about being abroad and adjusting to life here.

I don't believe I will ever be exposed to such a diverse group of people for the rest of my life.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience has made me learn in a different way than I have ever taken classes before. I have 5 hours of class everyday in 50 minute blocks, in the same room. The teachers rotate out and there is a 15 minute "pausa" after each 50 minute course. We do not follow a course syllabus. The teacher simply comes in and decides what she wants to teach that day. The flexibility in the schedules here is unlike anything I have experienced at an American university.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

My decision to study the Italian language is rooted in my family background. After my grandpa passed away, there was no other relative in my family that spoke Italian well enough to communicate with those living in Italy. I decided to change my language studies to Italian to fill this gap. Now, as I look to law schools, the benefits of Italian language are evident as I can identify Latin phrases that have Italian similarities.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I think Perugia incorporates the experience of having a classic study abroad experience with flexibility to make it your own. The school's environment is focused on having the student understand the language and practice as much as possible. Activities in and out of the classroom provide opportunities to meet with locals and have a dialogue without the pressure of feeling judged by a teacher or other students. The benefits of living in a small town are endless. The freedom of living in an apartment with international students is priceless. The possibilities of places to visit from such a central location in Italy is limitless.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Paterno Fellows has expanded my resources for studying abroad. With the privilege to receive an enrichment fund, I can alleviate the high costs associated with living abroad and just focus on my studies here.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website
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