Alumni Spotlight: Sara DiGiamo


As someone who is of Italian heritage, Sara has always loved Italy and Italian culture. But, it wasn't until she studied in Italy for four month that she truly felt connected with her ancestry.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose CIS because as soon as I showed interest in the program, their staff was very quick to help me, answer my questions, and make the application process as straight forward as possible. Another reason why I chose them is because I know 3 students who had studied through CIS the semester prior and they loved their experience.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My CIS adviser, Molly, was extremely helpful with answering all of my questions, providing me with pre-departure information and tips, and giving me her honest advice. CIS provided me with housing, extra-curricular experiences, and my textbook expenses were even included in the program. They went above and beyond to help with any issues.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Plan ahead as soon as you move in! Although four months may seem like a long time, there are so many places to visit and things to experience that, by the end, I wish I had more time to travel. Also, flights will sell out and prices will go up the longer you wait to book them. Bus companies, such as Bus2Alps, were also a great way for students to save money when traveling.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The earliest class starts at 9am and the lastest class goes until 6pm. There are no Friday classes. Most students take four classes but I know a few that took five. An Italian language class is a requirement. When traveling, most students would leave on Thursday night and come back to Florence on Sunday night.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was that I would get homesick/lonely. It's easy to exclude yourself, stay in, and get lonely. It's important to spend time with other study abroad students and go out and enjoy the city together. You have to remember that everyone studying abroad is in the same boat as you. Your experience is really what you make of it.

Any other advice for future CIS Florence students?

Even though there is a lot of traveling to squeeze into four months, don't forget to appreciate and explore Florence! There is no other city like it and it has so much to offer. Between hiking Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset, climbing to the top of the bell tower, or visiting Boboli Gardens, there is so much to be experienced in walking distance of your apartment.