Shaye DiPasquale is a Communications major at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster, PA. While studying abroad during the spring 2018 semester, she was able to visit over 8 countries and 25 countries across Europe.
Why did you choose this program?
I’ve identified as Italian-American all my life. My family observes many traditional Italian customs when it comes to food, celebrations, and family gatherings. However, there has always been a part of me that has felt disconnected from my identity. Studying abroad in Florence, Italy gave me the empowering opportunity to trace back my ancestral roots for myself. Also, I knew that I would be able to take courses at the Florence University of the Arts to supplement my major which my home university does not offer.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My university helped me work through the Study Abroad application with CISAbroad. My Study Abroad adviser was great at answering my questions and connecting me with the resources that I needed on-campus. I had to set up my Italian student visa appointment at the Italian Consulate and acquire all the proper documentation needed for that appointment. I also organized my own flight itinerary to get over to Italy. Once I landed in Italy, the CISAbroad on-site staff helped me acquire my permit to stay.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
You will need so much less of everything than you think. I only brought travel size products with me to Italy, with the expectation that I would buy full size toiletries once I got settled in my apartment. As it turns out, I never had to buy any extra products. I also wasn't sure how I'd bring 5 month-worth of winter and spring clothes to Italy in one suitcase, but it was definitely doable!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I only had classes two days a week, so I had plenty of time to explore Florence and to travel to other cities and countries around Europe. Florence University of the Arts always has something going on, whether it’s a sports night where people can gather to participate in a game of soccer or it’s a fitness class in the school's gym. The CISAbroad on-site people are also great at organizing small meet-ups at restaurants and cafes around the city, where students can come and chat!
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 traveling to other countries by myself or with other first-time travelers. I thought we would be prone to missing flights or getting lost in the middle of cities. As it turns out, common sense served me well, and I felt comfortable traveling from country to country. I learned that there's a big difference between being lost in a city and choosing to wander around and explore.
What was the most surprising thing about Italy?
I think I was most surprised by how familiar the country felt. There’s something about exploring the quiet alleyways of Tuscan towns that almost felt like a homecoming. Even in a city atmosphere like Florence, it only took a few days for me to feel at home and at peace. I might not have understood most of the Italian chatter floating around me as I walked down the street, but the people there are so warm and inviting that I felt like I belonged there nonetheless.