Study-abroad in Italy? "Si" (yes)

Sixteen WCSU students spent two weeks immersed in Italian language and culture

Image from Wintersession in Italy 2014DANBURY, CONN. — Study-abroad opportunities are abundant at Western Connecticut State University, including a monthlong summer study program in Spain and a two-week Italian immersion experience that fulfills the three-credit general education language requirement. Sixteen students, representing diverse degree programs, traveled recently to Italy for Wintersession in Florence 2014. Among the participants were students pursuing American studies, communication, accounting, meteorology, nursing and theater arts.

Classes were conducted at the Florence University of the Arts, a modern, state-of-the-art facility in central Florence. In addition to language classes, students explored the architecture and museums of Rome, Pisa, Montepulciano and Pienza, and participated in a hands-on Italian cooking class.

Considered to be the birthplace of the Italian language and home to the most pure dialect of the language, the Tuscany region provided an inspiring backdrop for studies in the language, cuisine and culture of Italy. It was here that Dante penned the great work of Italian literature, the “Divine Comedy.” The city is home to a plethora of historical and artistic landmarks, including the Medici Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, the Galleria degli Uffizi and Michelangelo’s David.

Ashley Kruijs, a junior majoring in elementary education and history, said she decided to go on the trip because it was a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. “I don’t know if I would ever be able to go to Italy another way and it has been a dream of mine for some time,” she said. “The best part of the trip was seeing all the historical sites like the Coliseum. Waking up in beautiful Florence to 50 degree weather didn’t hurt, either. This experience is something I will remember for the rest of my life. Patrizia Farina is an excellent professor and I learned so much — including more Italian than I ever could have in a classroom.”

Meteorology major Eric Keller said he wanted to explore as much as he could before graduation next year. “I’ve always wanted to study abroad, but I felt that a whole semester overseas was too much,” he said. “When I heard about this and found that it was only two weeks, I thought that was the perfect amount of time to get away.

“Getting a feel for different cultures and different lifestyles helps one become well-rounded,” Keller added. “We saw many landmarks, ate plenty of delicious food and walked pretty much all of Florence. It was great learning the language in the country in which it is spoken. Learning Italian for an hour and a half and not applying it to daily life will not strengthen what you learn. If you apply what you learn in the classroom to daily life, the lessons really stick and you get a better understanding of what you are learning. I learned a lot about Italian culture and heritage while on this trip and I also made really good friends. Going to a foreign country and not knowing the language makes everyone stick together and become a family.”

Amanda Corna, a senior studying media arts production, said she thought it would be an opportunity of a lifetime to learn a language in its country of origin and soak up all of the culture. “I learned so much about the language, the art and the history of Italy in just the two weeks we spent there,” she said. “Seeing sights in real life that I’ve only seen in pictures or movies was incredible. Even just being amongst the people and their daily life was truly amazing. We were constantly doing things and going places every day, and we got to see such incredible sights, look at amazing art and view parts of Italy’s history. I also made really great friends and had a teacher who was way better than any tour guide we had on the entire trip. It was not just a worthwhile experience. It was a life-changing event, and I loved every second of it.”

Registration will begin soon for Wintersession in Italy 2015. For information, go to


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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