Emily is currently a sophomore Theatre Major, Business Minor at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN. She was a student on Spoleto Study Abroad in the summer of 2011, after her junior year of high school. She was a theatre focus in Spoleto and also participated in the choir.
Why did you decide to study abroad with Spoleto in Italy?
I had been encouraged to look into the program by one of its faculty members, Dr. Jan Guffin, who knew me very well and thought it would be good for me. When I did research on my own I realized how right he was. The program with Spoleto gave me the opportunity to go to Italy (which I hadn’t traveled to since I was a little girl), study theatre in such a gorgeous location, and have an abroad experience, where I could become a more independent and self-sufficient person.
Another huge selling point of the program was the amount of traveling we did around Italy. When in Spoleto we were in extensive study programs that acclimated us to the city and allow us to grow in our art forms, but we also went to six other Italian cities and towns such as Florence, Tivoli and Siena. I knew others who had been on the program and had fantastic times, which put both my parents' and my mind at ease, and solidified my desire to go on this trip.
What made this summer abroad experience unique and special?
The major aspect that made this trip unique and special was the town of Spoleto. Even though we were only there for three short weeks, we became locals. The town was small enough that we knew it like the back of our hands. Shop owners knew the program and took an interest in taking care of us, such as the fruit man, Ercilio, who we all visited many a time and would give us little free treats along with our purchases.
Also, the faculty members are experts in their crafts and know exactly how to incorporate the material into the Italian atmosphere; one example would be how my theatre instructor, Jack, had me yell my Juliet monologue from the Spoleto aqueduct. In addition, they were so flexible with what we wanted to accomplish. I was there for theatre, yet they allowed me to join the choir class when I showed an interest in it. Finally, traveling around Italy was like the cherry on top of the sundae. Our instructors would point out historical aspects of each city and then we would get to go explore. Each city was a little different than the one before and there was a very good range from large Florence to small Tivoli.
How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, etc)
One of the major questions I went into this abroad experience with was whether or not I could see myself doing theatre full-time. Thanks to this experience, I saw that I really did love theatre enough that doing it almost 24/7 for three weeks was amazing and not daunting. When I returned from this trip I knew that I wanted to major in theatre and that is what I’m currently doing at college. I’ve always loved to travel and felt comfortable in foreign countries, but this trip gave me the confidence to know that I could make such a trip alone and solidified my desire to take a semester abroad in college.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone considering studying abroad in Italy?
Do it. Italy is such an amazing place that to not jump on an opportunity like this would be a mistake. The culture and the history become a part of you in a way that you would never expect. I have been very fortunate to travel to many different countries in my life thus far, and I would say that few have affected me as much as Italy and this program. Few programs educate you to the extent that this program does, while also respecting and allowing you to experience the vast tradition in Italian culture. I spent three weeks in Spoleto studying and learning, but it didn’t feel like school. It was a great adventure that I would do again and would recommend to anyone. Also, the food is incredible!