Alumni Spotlight: Anna Destino


Anna Destino is a Senior at Lynchburg College studying Psychology with hopes of pursuing a Masters in Occupational Therapy. Traveling, crafting of all kinds, and being outside are some of Anna's favorite activities.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose Athena Study Abroad because the representatives from Athena that came to my school for the study abroad fair genuinely interested in getting to know me in order to better understand the best program for me. Furthermore, Athena Study Abroad had the most affordable programs I could find.

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

Athena Study Abroad had an amazing website with well-organized criteria. All of the travel, health forms, course-related material, and financial information was all included in a centralized application. My Athena advisor was incredibly timely in their responses to my questions and so easy to communicate with.

On the other hand, I was responsible for connecting with my home institution and gathering the needed forms for traveling abroad. I needed to get permission from my school to first go abroad then that the class I took was accepted as an elective through Lynchburg College. Lastly, I had to reach out to the study abroad center at my home university to look for scholarships.

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

I advise students to have an open mind to new experiences. Rather than saying that new things are weird or strange, I advise students to say interesting and different. Having an open mind allows students to get the best out of their study abroad experience. I also advise students to get to know the locals of an area rather than just the other students in their program. I got to know the locals in Tuscania, Italy and we began to recognize one another and reconnect every few days at a cafe.

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

The average day begins with class in the morning and early afternoon with nights off. I would usually have the morning to explore the town. Then in the afternoon, I would attend class for three hours a day, four days a week. On Fridays, we took an adventure to a local town and had the opportunity to see parks, basilicas, visit restaurants, and wine tastings. On top of the Friday outings, we took a field trip once a week for my wine and Culture of Italy course. With our meal vouchers, we began to cook lunch with local foods from the market and eat at a restaurant with our meal voucher for dinner!

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 going into my study abroad experience was fear of the unknown situations I would face in all aspects (new school, new town, new friends, going alone, etc.). I was able to overcome this fear by being patient and knowing that being nervous means you care. I was open and real with my new classmates/friends. Furthermore, the people from the school in Italy and my classmates were so kind and friendly that it made the transition easy.

What was your unforgettable experience in the program?

I had a funniest experience due to a language barrier was when I was at a cafe trying to order gelato and the worker did not speak any English. I was trying to point to the gelato flavor that I wanted and ended up saying the complete opposite flavor so I ended up with some strangely flavored gelato.