CIS Abroad - Semester in Perugia - Umbra Institute

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Explore a part of Italy that’s off the beaten path! You’ll live in Perugia, a youthful college town on a hill with deep cultural roots and walkable cobbled streets and take classes at the Umbra Institute, whose distinctive programs allow you to immerse yourself in Italian culture and learn both in and beyond the classroom. The small class sizes and close-knit community mean you’ll get personalized attention in your classes (all in one building in the center of town) and you’ll also be able to practice your Italian with local students. Level up in Italian by adding an internship to your semester!

  • A sustainable and community-focused Institution
  • World-class restaurants and buzzing nightlife
  • Host of one of Europe's largest chocolate festivals
  • Local trips to explore art and culture
  • Homestay option with a local Italian family


CISabroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

70% of all CISabroad students receive scholarships, grants, or discounts to study abroad. We're unapologetically committed to increasing access to international education for all students.

$250 - $500

Questions & Answers


9.25 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 75%
  • 7-8 rating 25%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 7
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 8.3
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 8
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Yes, I recommend this program

Semester in Perugia- Spring 2018

I truly cannot say enough about this beautiful city. Up until several months before I left, I had no idea Perugia even existed but I'm so glad I chose to study there. I loved that it was a smaller city which offered a break from the constant go go go of living in a larger city (although Florence isn't too far away). It is easy to walk almost everywhere and you do get a bit of a workout with all the hills! There is so much history and unique facts to be learned. Although I was excited to study abroad, I was also very nervous. Honestly, it did not come without it's challenges. The staff and faculty at Umbra could not have been friendlier, more helpful, warm or welcoming. They helped me through the rough patches and made the overall transition much easier. They helped me understand cultural norms, gave me insights into the best places to eat and do things and even helped with small things such as where to buy items I needed. The staff and faculty truly do care about the students and they are a huge reason why I had such a great semester. I really enjoyed all the classes I took. My professors were extremely passionate about what they taught which made me more interested in their classes and I gained something from every single one of them. My Italian professor was extremely patient and gave us lots of chances to succeed, teaching us not only the language but the culture. My history/sustainability professor was hugely helpful in understanding Italian cuisine and taking us on unique field trips and my photography professor changed the way I take photographs. I feel very lucky to have had such great teachers. I highly recommend taking the history and culture of food in Italy course, it's a lot of fun. The CISabroad staff was also very helpful, especially prior to leaving the US. My contact at CIS was always available to answer my many, many questions and was there to assist when I had trouble with my flight. They were also very helpful in the somewhat complicated and stressful paperwork process of things like getting a visa, prior to leaving. Perugia itself is amazing. There is an endless amount of great food spots (even as a vegetarian I never had an issue finding anything). There are lots of great spots to hang out (Turan Cafe, the steps in Piazza IV Novembre and the lookout at the end of Corso Vanucci are some of my favorites). Perugia is especially beautiful towards the end of the day, when the sun starts going down. It's a great place to practice Italian because English isn't spoken quite as much. The entire city has a very authentic feeling, exactly what I would picture a little Italian city to look like. The wifi can be spotty at times due to the city's infrastructure and it can be quite cold in the winter. I highly recommend warm clothes for sleeping at night because apartments can get very chilly. The first several weeks were intimidating, especially because I had very little Italian skills and didn't really know anyone. Being patient with myself was important because it took awhile for me to get comfortable with living there, but once I did, I fell even more in love with the city. Post study abroad has also been challenging because I got so used to the Italian style of living but I gained so much from my time in Perugia. I learned the importance of enjoying life and it also opened my eyes to a very different world than I had known. Studying abroad changes your view of the world and it's people. I have much more respect for people living in a new country where they don't speak the language. I also gained a huge amount of confidence and independence that don't think I would have found at home. I travelled a lot on my own (safely of course) but it really made me learn to trust myself. My best advice would be to be patient with yourself because it can take a while to get comfortable, it's okay to have hard days, try EVERYTHING you want, go after every experience. I tried to do this and I really have no regrets. From Perugia, I gained a new appreciation for life. I think the coolest part was, when I first arrived, I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. By the time I left, I felt like I belonged there. I definitely recommend Perugia, you won't find anything else quite like it. I can't wait to return to my second home in the near future and I hope you love it as much as I do!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish it was longer! I felt like I had just 100% became comfortable and was really enjoying Perugia and then it was time to leave.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My abroad experience

My time spent in Perugia Italy was life changing, and CIS did a good job of making sure the students felt welcomed and safe. The staff at the Umbra institute were exceptionally helpful and involved. My professors took the time to get to know the students and engage with us in the lessons. Especially my Italian teacher, who was very patient with us as we attempted to improve our pronunciation and grammar. Even before I took off for Italy, my CIS adviser was a great resource for all of my questions and responded to emails very quickly. My advice to other students who are interested in studying abroad is to talk with other students and ask them about their experiences. This program was perfect for me because I was part of the Food and Sustainability program which is something I'm very passionate about, however there may be other places that are better suited to your unique interests! Then, talk to your CIS advisor. Also, the process of getting your visa may be scary and complicated (or at least it was for me) so make sure to talk to your CIS advisor and try to get an early appointment with your closest consulate.

1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Perugia Perspective

Have you ever heard of Perugia? Do you know where in Italy Perugia is located? Do you know what it looks like or what festivals take place there? You may have said yes if you went abroad/travelled there, you have family there, or you just really know your geography. I for one, did not know anything about Perugia, nor that it existed until my friend told be about the CIS abroad program in Perugia. And boy am I glad she shared her experiences with me, because now I have my own memories to share and cherish. The best part about going into this was that I had no idea what to expect, who I would meet, or the things that I would do. I was going to an unknown place that a lot of people had never really heard of. And this is exactly what I was looking for. Sure, I visited the big cities of Rome and Florence, but Perugia was my home base, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Perugia was above and beyond what I ever imagined; the people, the friendships, and the history were extraordinary. I was able to see an original Raphael fresco on the wall of a small chapel during one of my field trips in Perugia. I was given the opportunity to volunteer with UNICEF, working alongside local women to make pigotta dolls that would eventually be sold to provide vaccinations for women and children in need. I individually ate well over 50 pizzas for as little as 5-7 euros during my semester, and enjoyed a cone of gelato directly afterwards. I came to Perugia knowing not one word of Italian, but I ended up leaving with a more expansive vocabulary and knowledge of a language that I hope to be fluent in by the time I return. But what really shaped my experience were the long lasting friendships I had formed and the new places I got to explore and the culture I was able to engage in. There is so much to see in this world and many people to learn from, therefore I believe that my mind and heart will never stop growing until I see it all. As cheesy as that may sound, it is true for me! Perugia and all the countries I was fortunate enough to visit has most definitely given me the travel bug.
I recommend this program to anyone who is looking to make their experience their own. Honestly, I believe it is for everyone. It is a small program relative to the other programs out there, but it provides you with a close knit group of people that you can get to know (if you choose to do so). There are fun places to hang out for nightlife (definitely not a crazy nightlife scene, but still really fun on the weekends)! The areas surrounding Perugia are a fun visit too, and just a train ride away. I often frequented Assisi, and in the warmer months, my friends and I spent some time on Lake Trasimeno. Centro Historico Perugia is walkable and breath taking, and you won't find better food (even as a vegetarian, trust me). There are farmers markets, great shopping, movie theaters, and cafes. It is everything I needed to feel right at home, even though I was miles and miles away.
As I was preparing to go home, my friends and I had a big farewell party. Basically, it was almost half the people in the program (some of the people I hadn't really formally met until that night)! From day 1 until day 105, everyone was so inclusive and friendly. I can't say that is how it is all the time or how everyone feels, but I got really lucky to meet such a genuine group of people. We all got to share our worst and absolute best moments abroad, and honestly I have never laughed harder than at some of these unfortunate stories.
If I could do it again, I would over and over and over (and over). My best advice would be to let things fall into place, and find the experience that you are looking for and be sure to make it happen. This is your time to see, do, eat, and experience all this chapter in your life has to offer. Go to that museum alone, try that mystery pastry you've been eyeing, chat up the local cafe owner, and make sure you always have the necessary tickets and stamps before trying to board a flight (one of the worst moments of my life, but that is a story for a different day). All of my experiences were well worth it, because it was in those moments that made it my own. I now have friends on the west coast, even more on the east coast, and some friendly faces I hope to encounter again in Perugia. I really recommend the Perugia program, and if you choose a different one, I hope you find everything that you are looking for and more. (But, I am biased towards Perugia, so I would choose it if I were you).

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly I can't think of anything. Maybe more clarity on what is being paid for/ what is included with the cost.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Review- Samantha Berenschot-Bucciero

I signed up for the Food Studies and Sustainability Program offered through Umbra Insititue in Perugia, Italy because I am an environmental studies and sustainability major. I really enjoyed the program and experienced more than I ever thought I would. They fit so much in and really allowed us to experience Italian culture through food. The staff and professors were incredible, friendly, and knowledgeable. I truly enjoyed it. However, I really wished the program focused more on sustainability. I think it was too focused on food and tradition and I was expecting a little bit more of an environmental prospective. I think it has the potential to really integrate innovative and green thinking into the cultural and culinary education already being taught.

What would you improve about this program?
I would like to see more enviornmwntal and sustainability classes in the program.
1 person found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Authentic Italian Experience

Perugia is a fantastic place to study abroad. If you want to study in Italy, but looking for less touristy options such as Rome and Florence, I think Perugia is a perfect fit. First, it’s well located so you can easily travel to bigger cities and then fly to other parts of Europe. Perugia is a smaller city so by the end of your stay you’ll feel very comfortable and become very familiar with the city. Also Perugia isn’t as touristy so You can definitely get some use out of your Italian, that was one of the main reasons why i studied in Perugia in order to improve my Italian. Also, the Umbra institute does a great job with community engagement and there are various way to become part of Peruia outside of the classroom. Lastly, Perugia is a beautiful, cute city that you’ll fall in love with!

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe classes at stranieri could be a bit more engaging, a lot was lecture based
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Perugia, Italy Experience

My name is Mary and I am a student at Ohio University. As a sophomore, I knew that I wanted to study abroad before I graduated and went out into 'the real world'. I was fortunate enough to have met with a few other students who shared their experiences during their times abroad. They informed me of CIS Abroad and how helpful they were with getting them set up and finding the ideal study abroad location for them.
Ever since I was a little girl I was crazy about Italy. No I am not Italian. And no its not because of my obsession with pizza or wine. Instead, it was because I loved their language and always thought of their culture as being romantic.
At the end of my sophomore year, I set sail (well actually via plane) to Italy. The program I was in was a 6 week session in the summer. When I arrived, not knowing a soul, I was warmly greeted by the CIS Abroad staff. They were full of answers to my many questions and made me feel like I was part of their family. I was also greeted in waves of the members that were embarking on the same journey that I was. The students were from all over the United States; Wisconsin, California, Ohio, Illinois.
The housing that was offered to me through the program was amazing! I stayed in a beautiful, authentic Italian apartment in the town of Perugia. I had one roommate, who was also a student abroad in the same program as me. We quickly became friends, which made things very fun when I wanted to explore -because I always had a friend close by to do those things with.
The schooling that was involved was intense but very rewarding. I came to Italy with two semesters of Italian and planned on finishing my last two semesters there. For me, learning a language was never easy. I barely even had the basics down in the Italian language before my study abroad trip. The teachers in Italy were so hands on and helpful that I picked the language up faster than I ever thought I could. Still to this day, over a year later, I correspond with the teachers I had -in Italy. Amazing learning experience overall!
The location of Italy where I lived was incredible. It was the small town atmosphere that I wanted that included little cafes and pizza shops. It was so nice to live in a smaller town because I became a regular at some places. One place in particular (I forget the name at the moment) sold fresh fruit smoothies and paninis. I used to go almost every day with my fellow classmates! We became so close with the sweet man that lived there. He would only speak to us in Italian and told of us of his journey from Algeria to Italy and how he always wanted to own a shop. Hopefully one day I go back and visit and he will still be there!
All in all, my study abroad experience was unforgettable. Still to this day I think about the amazing times I had in Perugia, Italy. It was challenging at times, but I am grateful because it shaped me as a person and put me out of my comfort zone. I would recommend studying abroad to anyone! CIS Abroad made my trip so enjoyable and I couldn't have asked for anything more.

What would you improve about this program?
Including more excursions within the program. Due to the fact that the schooling was so intense, it wasn't very easy to just up and leave and travel throughout Italy.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Summer in Perugia, Italy

I absolutely loved Italy. The CISabroad program helped ensure me that I would be safe, a fear of mine since I was traveling alone, and made everything I needed to do easy to follow. I highly recommend CISabroad for any study abroad programs. I would definitely return to Italy, and would definitely travel again through CISabroad! With so many options, CISabroad will help you get to any destination!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish it was longer!
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Umbra Institute

I wished I would have had the option of a mentor family or a home stay.
More help with "getting out of my shell" to meet more natives.
Professors were always willing to help out students.
Italian tutors were native, major bonus!
Travel was easy and not too expensive, throughout Italy.
Intensive Italian week was necessary and was extremely helpful in my stay in Italy. Wish it was less stressful though!

What would you improve about this program?
Help with meeting natives.
Class times were very oddly timed: Italian 9am-12pm and electives from 1-6:45pm.
Better orientation upon arrival.
1 person found this review helpful.