Program alumni are the best resources for students interested in going abroad, and they are available to answer your questions. If you would like to talk to a recent student about their experience in Italy, get in touch with the advisor, Alessandra Capossela

A student stands above an old city

Nick Wilbur, Wheaton College, Florence

The year I spent living in Florence was one of the best years of my life.

In addition to the obvious architectural and natural beauty of the city, the Middlebury Program in Florence also allowed me to experience countless aspects of life in Italy otherwise unavailable to American students. For instance, the program’s immersive approach of enrolling students directly at the University of Florence (where they take classes taught in Italian alongside Florentine peers) gave me the opportunity to experience an academic setting, style and structure completely different from that of my home institution, and thus allowed me to grow greatly as a student. Additionally, because students of the Middlebury Program have access to a wide variety of courses at the Italian university of their city, I was able to take classes in subjects as wide-ranging as literature, contemporary history, and advanced statistics. The courses at the Middlebury Center were also fantastic; the class sizes were small, the material highly engaging, and the professors kind and enthusiastic to the point that I look forward greatly to a continued correspondence with some far into the future.

Finally, the Middlebury Program also gave me the opportunity to improve both my resume and the strength of application for graduate programs. Unlike most students, I chose to study abroad for the entirety of my senior year while actively applying to law schools; during this process, not only was the staff of the Middlebury Center very helpful with any credit-related questions I might have had, but both the development of my complete fluency in the Italian language and the hands-on internship experience I gained in the office of an Italian criminal defense attorney I believe helped me stand out greatly as a law school candidate, and contributed to my acceptance at Southern Methodist University’s Law School for this fall.

For all of these reasons, and for countless others, I would recommend the Middlebury study abroad program to anybody with a desire to fully immerse themselves in a foreign culture, and to thus grow personally in innumerable ways.

A student stands at the top of a hill, overlooping the city of Florence

Kelsa Danforth, Sarah Lawrence College, Florence

Florence was a life changing experience which left me with the skills needed to not only live in, but to flourish in a foreign country. It was intimidating to arrive in a city where everything from the language to the process of ordering a coffee was new for me. However, with the one- on- one attention from professors and meeting like minded college students, learning Italian and acclimating to the culture became an exciting adventure.

My studies in art history and the Italian language were greatly expanded by living in a city with such a rich cultural foundation, architecture, and way of life. I found that I appreciated Botticelli’s Primavera, for instance, much more when I could take a short walk over to the Uffizi Gallery after class and see, first- hand, one of the most remarkable pieces to come out of the Italian Renaissance.

The Middlebury academic system was designed to be very supportive in learning to speak Italian. At first, I didn’t think I was capable of taking on the Language Pledge, a written agreement saying that I would have to speak and write in Italian during my time in Florence. However, it challenged me to interact and converse with more locals in their native language, consequently giving me greater insight into Italian culture. Florence was a fascinating city to study abroad in because it is a living testament to Italy’s golden age while also entertaining the political discourse of today’s social and economic issues. By the end of the semester, I would walk through the streets of Florence with the feeling that I had found a new home.

A student stands against a brick wall

Keaton Schrank, Wheaton College, Ferrara

Even though I was in my third year of studying the Italian language, I still felt incredibly nervous about going to Ferrara and taking classes at the university. At the beginning of the semester, I remember feeling like there was no way that I could pass my exams in Italian and that I would have to struggle through the entire semester. However, the Middlebury staff and my Italian friends assured me that I could pass my classes, and, after some hard work, I ended up passing all of my classes with flying colors. My academic work has always been extremely important to me so I did focus quite a bit on academics, but my semester in Ferrara was about so much more than grades.

Living in a city where English isn’t widely spoken was certainly a challenge, but I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. Though it could be frustrating at times, being immersed in the Italian culture and language allowed me to experience a whole new way of life and meet some truly extraordinary people. Not only did I improve upon my Italian language skills, but I also learned to see the world in a whole new way and experience a completely different way of life. From class field trips to Rome (no big deal, right?) and eating traditional homemade pasta to exploring a medieval castle and running a 5k through the historic part of the city, my semester in Italy was truly remarkable, and I am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to experience life in Ferrara!