Alumni Spotlight: Sondra Goldschmidt


Sondra is a 21 year old from Havertown, Pennsylvania, a suburb right outside of Philadelphia. She is currently a junior at the Pennsylvania State University where she is pursuing a degree in finance, with minors in Italian and theatre.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Sondra: Interning abroad has greatly impacted my future in every way possible. Through the friendships and relationships formed I have grown personally, and have memories that will last a lifetime.

Through my internship I have gained skills including how to work in a foreign environment and how to adapt to a new culture. I will use the skills I gained in future jobs and will be willing to work globally.

My experience has helped me realize my passion for traveling and experiencing new cultures, which I will continue to do in my future. Academically, my experience has helped me improve my Italian language skills and my business skills.

Overall this experience has positively influenced me as a person, and has helped me to grow and broaden my horizons.

What was the best place you visited outside of your home-base city?

Sondra: I traveled twice to the Amalfi Coast, which was one of the best decisions I made. The first time I went to Sorrento for one night, a town that is very relaxing during the day and energetic at night. Beauty is all around you, along with homemade limoncello! Sorrento is the perfect place for a fun night of clubbing and dancing.

The second time I visited the Amalfi Coast I did the towns of Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello all in one day. This trip had me exhausted at the end of the day, but was breathtaking.

The scenery was incredible and driving along the coast from town to town was an experience in itself. Each town is unique and built into the cliffs along the coast. I highly recommend visiting the Amalfi Coast while in Italy, for it is worth every second.

Do you feel you got a chance to see the city from a local’s perspective?

Sondra: Yes, I truly believe I was able to see Rome from a local’s perspective while abroad. This was due to a few different factors, but mainly due to my internship. My work environment helped me throughout my stay with not only my Italian language skills, but also learning much about the culture through my co-workers.

Almost everyone I worked with only spoke Italian, which made me feel like a local from the beginning. Befriending local Italians and Italian students also helped me see Rome from a local perspective.

At night we went to places that were not as touristy, but rather more local spots. This helped me get a feel for the local culture and norms and made my experience that much more memorable.

Describe your program socially and academically.

Sondra: My program was very successful in blending social and academic engagements. Without the social aspect I would never had had the experiences and memories I brag about today. IES was great at giving opportunities for everyone to mingle and get to know each other from day one.

Lunches, dinners, and sport events were just a few opportunities offered to us through IES. Being willing to meet new people and explore a new city with them is definitely what made this experience amazing for me.

The program was great academically as well, with classes that truly expanded your knowledge of the Italian and Roman culture. Through field studies and field trips I was able to learn about the history of Rome while looking at it.

Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?

Sondra: I purchased two small paintings from a tiny shop near my work before I returned home from my program. One is a painting of a small, beautiful cobblestone street at night. The other is a painting of the Tiber with the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican in the background.

The two paintings are one of my favorite and most meaningful souvenirs I brought back because every time I look at them I feel as though I am back in Rome.

The bridge in the one painting is the bridge I walked over every day to get to work and school. Ever time I look at that picture I think of my walks and the people I passed every morning and waved too (the policeman and the street musician).

The street painting brings a sense of nostalgia when I look at it for I think of the streets I walked everyday near my work and near the piazzas. They are my own small piece of Rome I took back home with me, and will keep forever.