Alumni Spotlight: Victoria Copans


Victoria Copans, 19, is from Briarcliff Manor, New York and studied abroad in Sicily for six weeks from June-July 2013. She is currently studying Romance Languages at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. After graduation, she hopes to continue to improve her language skills and to potentially work in Europe.

Why did you decide to study abroad with the Center for Italian Studies?

One of the main reasons I decided on this program was because it was one of the few that was located in Sicily. I knew I wanted to go to Sicily because I figured that there would be fewer American students and fewer English-speakers in general than in other Italian cities such as Rome, for example. The cost was also a big factor, which was more reasonable than some of the other programs I looked at. Finally, the deciding factor for me was that I was able to get university credits approved for the language and literature courses taken abroad, which was important to me and very helpful considering my major in Romance Languages, so I then needed to take fewer language classes when I returned to the US.

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

One of the most unique aspects of this program was that it took place in Sicily, which is usually not the first place people think to go in Italy but it made for an incredible study abroad experience. The city we were in, Taormina, was very small so I got to know it very well and often passed familiar faces on the streets, which was comforting. Another aspect that made the academic experience special was that the Italian language classes were not composed solely of American students but of people of all different nationalities. This meant that we couldn’t just switch back to our native language during class and it really forced us to speak Italian and immerse ourselves in the language.

How has this experience impacted your future?

My study abroad experience in Sicily definitely solidified my love for Italian and for learning languages in general and made me want to keep studying language in college, even though I have technically finished the requirements for my major. It also allowed me to be more independent and get used to living on my own. Since returning from Italy, all I have wanted to do is go back to Europe, and I hope to work there one day after graduation.

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

My trip was full of unforgettable and unique experiences, but the most memorable by far was the Taormina Film Festival. Every summer, Taormina hosts a film festival, and I was lucky enough to be there while it was going on. It is held in city’s the Greek amphitheater, and it was absolutely incredible and unreal to be able to watch movies on a huge screen in the ancient Greek theater, with the sea and the beautiful volcano Mt. Etna in the background.

The opening night was especially exciting because they screened Man of Steel, and the actors and director were in attendance.

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

Since I attended Babilonia as an American study abroad student, almost everything was taken care of for me, which was very helpful. I had to book my flights there and back, but the school arranged for a taxi to drive me to and from the airport, and housing arrangements were also made for me. Finally, a light breakfast was provided every weekday at the school, and for the most part I arranged for lunch and dinner on my own.