Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Letizia: I studied abroad in Australia and it was the best time of my life. In 2004 I was studying economics at the University of Florence and I knew that an experience abroad would have contributed to make my resume more interesting to the eye of a future employer.
I wanted to have “a plus”, something different from my pears that would graduate the same year as me. I thought that a study abroad experience could make me more flexible, capable to adapt quickly to a new environment and more open minded. All qualities that a future employer would look for when selecting a candidate.
I actually learned so much during my time abroad, much more than I could have ever imagined. Studying abroad has helped me not only on a professional point of view, but also on a personal point of view. I have invaluable memories of my time in Melbourne. I met people from all over the world and after 10 years I am still good friend with most of them.
What was your favorite traveling experience?
Letizia: I don’t like big cities, I never have. I have many traveling experience that are sweet memories in my heart: Tasmania in 2005, Portugal in 2008, and east Australia in 2009, but the one I cherish the most is New Zealand in 2009. My husband and I decided to rent a car and drove from Auckland to the Waipoua Forest which is one part of the largest remaining tract of native forest in the North Island.
The drive to the forest is spectacular: the road winds through huge and spectacular kauri trees, the colors of the sky are indescribable. With a Maori guide we adventured into the forest at dusk and followed a trail that lead us to meet one of the most significant tree, the natives call it Te Matua Ngahere – 'Father of the Forest' – which is huge and estimated to be between 2,500 and 3,000 years old.
The forest at night was magical, many animals, that we would never have seen during the day, were coming out their shelters and we had the feeling of being lucky viewers of an intact world that was exiting a long time ago.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Letizia: Not every student has an easy start. Sometimes studying abroad can be challenging, especially during the first few weeks away from home. Some students start missing home and for different reasons they think that they cannot successfully complete their time abroad.
We always do our best to encourage and support these students and most of the time they decide to remain with us and positively complete their semester abroad. Seeing this students overcome their difficulties in one of the best part of my job. Through this experience they learn they can actually overcome every adverse situation.
They decide to challenge themselves and grow up in a way they usually do not even expect. Hearing from them once they go back home and understand how happy they are they have decided to stay is one of the biggest gratifications we could actually have knowing we, in some way, influenced that decision.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
Letizia: I feel very lucky to be part of the CEA team. CEA is a very dynamic organization and as a company it is always trying to improve. The good thing is that every semester is basically structured as the previous one but really nothing is actually the same. We always work with different students and we continuously try to provide them with the best experience they could possibly find in Florence.
CEA is constantly trying to make progress and get closer to what students really need. New ideas in order to reach a better result are always welcome and I find this attitude rewarding of my efforts. Our team in Florence is made of young people and we all get along very well. This is something that I am sure influence the students experience in many ways as the atmosphere is a very positive one.