Arcadia University- Umbra Institute

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Located halfway between Rome and Florence, Perugia, “the big university town in a small Italian city,” is the home of the Umbra Institute. Rich in art, architecture, and historical significance, it is internationally recognized as a city of learning. There are a variety of curricular options to choose from, from direct enrollment, a focus on field research, an honors track or a general studies option.

Travel to fascinating places of interest that enhance your cultural immersion and give a meaningful context to your academic courses. Excursions may include: Amalfi Coast, Film Festivals, and Roman Baths and Wine Vineyards in Viterbo.

Arcadia University opens the doors to new experiences, different academic learning, people, cultures and perspectives so you can build your own lifelong learning and memories. With Arcadia, you can: Enjoy academic success, explore a new world, get to know yourself, rely on us for support, and boost your resume.

Questions & Answers


based on 9 reviews
  • Academics 6.7
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 8.4
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 9 of 9
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Dreaming of Italy

I absolutely loved every part of studying abroad in Perugia. It was amazing to get to live in a very real part of Italy where tourists were few and far between and you could get to know your local shop owner. I wish I could be back there now eating at my favorite restaurants and having an afternoon gelato. The city of Perugia is absolutely beautiful and filled with so much history, I loved walking around in the afternoon and exploring all it had to offer.
My classes at the Umbra Institute were also incredible. I learned so much about Italian history and culture, wine, sustainability and even felt comfortable speaking Italian before I left.
I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants an authentic Italian experience and is passionate about food. I wish I were there now!

Response from Arcadia University Study Abroad

We are thrilled to hear you had a lovely time in Italy.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Charming City, Delicious Food, Some Downsides

The best part of Umbra's program in Perugia is the city itself. It's beautiful, charming and historical but isn't dangerous like bigger Italian cities can be. By the end of my four months, I was recognizing different people on the streets. The program itself is great, with one of the highlights being the weekly, hour-long tandems to improve our Italian and also make friends. One of the downsides washow late some of the cultural immersion programs startes and a lack of clarity about the language levels that were offered. Overall, I loved my time here and all the opportunities to connect with the community that Umbra offered.

How can this program be improved?
IHonestly, the program was great but
I definitely wish there had been more preparing of food in my History of Food and Culture class.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Wish I could go back....

Ever since I heard that studying abroad was an option I had my heart set on Italy. It didn’t really matter where exactly in Italy, just as long as I was there. When I first met with my advisor we went over the different programs and I began looking at pictures of the town I had chosen. I had no idea at the time how much that city would come to mean to me. I studied in a small town called Perugia, which is located between Florence and Rome in the region of Umbria which borders Tuscany. Little did I know, this would turn out to be the perfect city to call home for a semester. We all quickly fell in love with this town because of its small size and large student population, both local and international. My friends and I quickly adapted to the Italian lifestyle and met for a cup of coffee every morning before class and would attempt to use our broken Italian as we built relationships with the locals. The first class every morning was our Italian class, then we would all meet for lunch on the steps of the center of town. After lunch we attended our other classes, which all had an aspect of community involvement. Luckily we only had class Monday through Thursday which left us a long weekend to explore. Some weekends we would stay in town and walk around and really get to know the city we were living in. Other weekends we would take the train and visit other cities. I got to visit Venice for Carnival; I saw Florence in spring and stopped in Bologna for a daytrip. In addition we got to see the Amalfi coast and swim and cliff dive in Capri. I visited the Vatican while we were exploring Rome and explored countless cities during my semester abroad. Living in Italy was an unforgettable and life changing experience which not only broadened my worldview but also deepened my love of cultures and languages.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the length. I wish the semester had been longer.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Every morning, I would wake up to a beautiful view and there was always ongoing action. Perugia is a beautiful and quaint city that is perfect for college students to immerse themselves in the culture and feel safe at any time.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Independent in Umbria

The program at the Umbra Institute is great for adventures students because it give you the tools you need to be independent in Italy. Arriving in a country with no contacts, not speaking the language, and not being familiar with the customs is unnerving, even for someone who is excited to be abroad. The Umbra Institute struck the perfect balance of providing a comprehensive support system when students needed it, but allowing students to make decisions about their abroad experience for themselves. It's a program that allows you to really feel that you're living on your own in another country, and creates a sense of community and family around the school. The educational experiences that the Umbra Institute gives you outside of the classroom are also great for becoming familiar with Italian culture and learning in nontraditional ways. The program stresses being involved with the community and locals, as well as fellow American students, which makes for an amazing experience abroad.

How can this program be improved?
After classes ended, the departure was very abrupt. It would be nice to have a few days in the apartments after classes ended to properly say goodbye to everyone you've met after the stress of finals is over.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Quintessential Italy

I chose this program because I wanted to really experience Italy and be as little of a foreigner as possible. I cannot say enough good things about Arcadia, Umbra, & Perugia. It was truly the experience of a lifetime.This program was outstanding and I would not change a second of my time in Perugia. It is a wonderful little town. The people are friendly and always thrilled to hear you try and speak Italian. Arcadia did a special welcome program at a slow foods farm where we all learned how to make pasta! The day Arcadia planned at the farm was a lot of fun and a great way to get to know others in the program (other programs just do a dinner so this was something special!).
Umbra really did their best to submerge you into the Italian culture. With tandem nights throughout the semester we were able to meet with local Italians and help them with their english and in return they helped us with our Italian. Going to Perugia without knowing any Italian other than Ciao, these nights were extremely helpful & lots of fun!! Umbra's classes also had lots of embedded field trips which were fabulous. My favorite was going to Parma to see parmesan reggiano cheese be made.
One of the amazing things about Perugia, that you would not get from a big city experience, was that you really did get to know the locals. Perugia is a vibrant town filled with wonderful people, food, and festivals. I could not have chosen a better place to study abroad and have missed Italy everyday since returning.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Once in a lifetime experience!

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Perugia, Italy. Umbra Institute definitely prepared me for my semester in Italy, as well as for future experiences. To start the semester, every student participants in an intensive Italian language course, which allows students to learn Italian and apply it within the community by interviewing people in the piazza or making Italian desserts by following directions solely in Italian. After this week, all students take an Italian course which provides a lot of practice and out of class experiences as well. The other courses are all very interesting and most of them consist of field trips in Perugia and also different parts of Italy as well. I took two of the three courses in the Food Studies Program--learning all about Italian food, culture and sustainability while attending many taste tests, having real Italian meals and even going truffle hunting (not for chocolate, for actual truffles--mushrooms!). This program was absolutely incredible and allowed me to see different parts of the food system in general, as well as specific parts of the Italian food system. With this program, I toured the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese factory, the Parma Prosciutto factory, and visited Dario Cecchini's meat store. All of these field trips gave me outside experience to further understand the material in class--exposing me to experiences I probably would not have in the United States. Although not located very close to major cities (2 hours by train from Rome and Florence), Perugia is located in the rolling hills of Umbria and surrounded by many historical and beautiful towns in this area. All of these towns are necessary to spend time in because each are unique and valuable to this area! All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Perugia and at the Umbra Institute; I learned a lot and the staff members were very nice and helpful to all of the students!

Yes, I recommend this program
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More Authentic Italian Experience

Well, I am back in Charleston and occupied with nursing school, trying to fall back into my regular routine which has drastically changed since my return from Perugia. I have realized how much Perugia has helped me prepare for what is to come. Being home, I see how being so immersed into the Italian culture has made me more open-minded and will help with all aspects in life. Given the limited amount of Italian I was able to speak I found myself in a place in which I had to learn how to communicate with people in different ways. This brought me the opportunity to practice, learn and hone in on my communication skills. Studying to be a nurse I found that being able to communicate to all types of people is a skill that not only is needed, but also is necessary. Italy and my time in Perugia brought me this new ability.

My most memorable experience is when my parents came to visit me in Perugia. I brought my life, all things familiar, and who I was from America over to Italy. Perugia was my home now, and because of that, it was now my turn to lead. I was able to show them the place that I now called home, the place that even years after leaving the walls of Perugia will continue to be my home. I was able to show my family the people, the places, and the adventures that I found myself surrounded by every day. This time reminded me of my first days that I spent in Perugia, when I was overwhelmed. But while navigating the busy streets, and showing my family the places that have become all too familiar to me, that is when I realized Perugia had become my home.

Your months studying abroad will go by in a blink of an eye, so take advantage of every moment you have. Walk around the city, meet the people, try to communicate, and eat the food, and most importantly, speak Italian! The best part of my experience was making friends with people from all over the world, not just Americans. This will not only make you a well-rounded and interesting person, but it will change who you are forever.

Having visited friends who studies all over Italy, Perugia was unequivocally the best choice...and they all envied my "dolce vita" in Umbria wishing they had chosen Perugia as well.

How can this program be improved?
In Italian housing the heat is limited so that was not the best but we got used to it. If you choose a homestay be prepared to have an open mind and live with others string and good prepared so there are no surprises.
Yes, I recommend this program
Photo of Andrew Dunkle

A great year in Italy

I studied abroad in Perugia back in the summer of 2006. Wow, that was five years ago. Time sure does fly, but I still fondly remember the time I spent here.

Perugia is not exactly on the top of tourist destinations in Italy, but it's a fun city and a perfect jumping point to visit the rest of Italy. Florence is a two hour train ride north, and Rome is two hours south. Speaking of trains, the Italian system does take some getting used to. It's not always obvious where you need to switch trains so some basic Italian really comes in handy!

I took two summer classes: Italian art history (my major), and photography. Both were pretty basic to be honest, but the experience was more about being abroad rather than the study, if you know what I mean! Each class also included a field trip which was fun.

I lived with two other students from my university in an apartment the program rented for us. I think you have the option to live with an Italian family, but I'm not 100% on that. At any rate, the apartment was nice and clean complete with a small kitchen that we cooked in a lot. There was a small market down the street to buy food. *Warning* Italian stores close in the afternoon from 2 to 7 (approx.) so buy your food early if you don't want to starve.

That's about it. I had a great summer and really enjoyed traveling around the rest of Italy and Europe. I personally loved visiting Venice and other parts of northern Italy. I also made it to Germany and France which were great.

Good luck! I really can't say enough good things about the experience of studying abroad.

Yes, I recommend this program


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About Arcadia University Study Abroad

Students from colleges and universities throughout the U.S. study abroad with Arcadia University through The College of Global Studies, the first college of its kind in the U.S. With over 130 programs in 12 countries, we offer a wide range of...