Alumni Spotlight: Caitlin Hogan

Caitlin3 spent spring semester 2013 in Florence, Italy. She lives in a tiny town in New Jersey and goes to Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania (aka the middle of nowhere). She just turned 20 years old and is currently working in a bakery in her town but aspires to become a preschool teacher after college.

Why did you decide to study abroad with CIS-Florence ?

Caitlin looking cool on the amalfi coast

Caitlin: Deciding where to study abroad was the hardest decision for me! I’ve known that I wanted to study abroad before I even picked what college to attend so I began researching in the beginning on my freshman year and I had so many choices! I changed my mind so many times, from England to Africa. Well, long story short I picked Italy because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and experience something totally new. I didn’t know Italian at all, other than ciao, grazie, and food names. It’s been a dream of mine to “eat my way through Italy” so I decided that studying abroad would be the perfect opportunity! Once I picked studying in Italy, I had the choice between Rome, Florence, and Perugia. I picked Florence because I wanted to be in a city, also something totally new, and Florence sounded like so much fun.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Caitlin: The most life-changing experience I had while abroad was going alone and the living situation. I was the only student from my college to go to Florence. I have always lived in small cities; so living in an actual city was an experience in itself, along with living on my own. I live with my parents and so far at school I have lived in a dorm building, so living independently in an apartment was also such an experience! I become so much more independent. Living alone, which I can’t do just yet at home, helped me grow up a lot. Also, being abroad made me realize how easy it is to travel. I was able to travel all over Italy and visit a couple other countries in Europe. It opened my eyes to traveling within the USA. It motivated me to see more of the country I live in!

What did CIS-Florence do for you and what did you need to do on your own?

Caitlin: CIS-Florence helped out so much! Ashley, who was my study abroad advisor in the USA, and Romina, who was my on-site advisor in Italy, were both wonderful. They were always willing to answer any questions I had and Romina helped me so much with everything! CIS planned so many activities to do while abroad! There were two excursions included in the price, and throughout the semester Romina planned a lot of really fun things to do, like getting gelato at the best place in Florence.

Caitlin and friends at football

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.

Caitlin: If you are in Italy, you must try everything! In Florence, my favorite place to eat is Mario’s Trattoria near the San Lorenzo Market. The menu is hand written on paper on the wall and changes everyday. You also must try the Fiorentina steak there because it’s delicious! Gelato is also a must while in Italy. My favorite place is on Via Dei Macci near the San’t Ambrogio market. If you get the chance to go to Naples, you obviously have to get pizza! I did and it was beyond delicious! This might sound crazy, but I have dreams about the pizza in Naples, that is how perfect it is. Al the food in Italy is delicious and you can’t really go wrong!