Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Making The Most Of Milano

Q&A with Davis: Studied in Italy
Share this
Print this
Davis
Studied in Italy
College of William and Mary
His thoughts on Motivation
I didn’t make the final decision to go until two of my friends returned from their years abroad. I couldn’t resist their stories!
His thoughts on First Impressions
At first, I was constantly excited; everything was so new and Italian. Every street was magnificent, every person European, every piece of clothing beautiful.
His thoughts on Adaptation
At some point in June, I had a moment of pristine clarity: I was no longer the naïve, awkward American boy I had been when I arrived in September.
His thoughts on Adaptation
Somehow I had integrated myself into the culture. And after months of freezing weather and many hardships, I had emerged a new person.
His thoughts on Language Learning
I studied hard. I completed a grammar workbook, I studied a dictionary and a book of verb conjugations, I listened to music, I read short novels, and I begged classmates to speak to me!
His thoughts on Coming Home
They acted as if I had never left, even though I was bursting with excitement about my year in Italy. I wanted to tell them EVERYTHING, but they couldn’t have been less interested.

When and where did you study abroad?

I arrived in Milan on September 4, 2011 and lived there until June 29, 2012. I did a gap year, meaning that I delayed college for a year, avoiding the nightmare of transferring credits back to high school. I studied at Liceo Musicale G. Verdi, the music high school of the Conservatory of Milan. I lived with my first host family from September until January, and I stayed with the second family for the rest of the year until my departure in June. Many people are shocked to learn that I had two host families; they ask me with confused faces if I had some kind of problem with the first family. Fortunately I did not. Staying with two to three families is simply the protocol of Rotary International (RI), my program. In this way, the exchange student gains insight into various nuances within the host culture. And believe me, my two host families were polar opposites in every way!

How did you search for programs? What made you select your program?

When I was in middle school, my family hosted a Swedish boy through the Rotary program. The experience was only so-so, given that the boy was 18 and I was only 12; we had nothing in common. Years later, however, when I was a sophomore in high school, my family hosted another Rotary student, this time from Japan. He was my age, we had the same interests, and he got involved in school activities like choir and theatre. Everyone loved Taka, and after hosting him, I began to seriously consider doing an exchange year. I didn’t make the final decision to go until two of my friends returned from their respective Rotary years in Denmark and Italy. They were so full of life and took every opportunity to gush about their life-changing experiences. I couldn’t resist their stories! At that point I knew which program to choose. Rotary runs a well-recognized program, it’s free, and it exists in virtually every country of the world. It just made sense.

What was the biggest surprise about your study abroad experience?

The thing that surprised me most about my exchange was just how normal my Italian life became. At first, I was constantly excited; everything was so new and Italian. I relished exploring the city of Milan. Every street was magnificent, every person European, every piece of clothing beautiful. I basked in the last days of summer in September and October. But by the time winter arrived, I was used to living in the big city. The cold weather made everything grey, and I became quite downtrodden. I survived of course, and by springtime I felt one hundred per cent comfortable in Italy. I knew every district of Milan; I had traveled extensively throughout the Italian peninsula; and had become fluent in the language. Going to the supermarket for shaving supplies was no longer a challenge. At some point in June, I had a moment of pristine clarity: I was no longer the naïve, awkward American boy I had been when I arrived in September. How and when did this happen? Somehow I had integrated myself into the culture. And after months of freezing weather and many hardships, I had emerged a new person.

How did you find communication within your host households?

I noticed that Italian parents did not communicate very much with us, the exchange students. They welcomed us into their homes as their own children, but after a few weeks, it became obvious that we were to conform to their standards of behavior in the home, but these standards had never been explained to us! There was much less communication in the family than we were used to in America and Canada, and at times this created awkward and tense situations. But if we, the visitors, took initiative to open more lines of communication, it seemed like these incidents were quickly forgotten and everyone was happier.

What made your study abroad experience a success?

Before leaving for Italy, I made two goals for myself: make friends and learn Italian. For the first few months I drove myself forward by remembering these goals. Around February I finally accepted that the majority of my classmates weren’t interested in getting to know me, and I’d have to be happy with the few kids who had taken the time to understand me. With these friends, I practiced my Italian, they practiced their English, we ate out, we went to the opera, and we even took a trip to England at the end of the school year. I had fulfilled the first goal, and even though my former idea of “making friends” suggested that I’d make many more, I feel fortunate to have known my few true Italian friends. As for the language, I studied hard. I completed a grammar workbook, I studied a dictionary and a book of verb conjugations, I listened to music, I read short novels, and I begged my classmates to speak to me in Italian as they would to each other. By June my Rotary district had proclaimed me one of two students (out of twenty) who had mastered the language with fluency.

What was your return like?

Coming home was strange for me, mostly because my family had moved to Virginia while I was away. I knew nobody in Virginia, so I was stuck with my family. And they drove me crazy! They acted as if I had never left, even though I was bursting with excitement about my year in Italy. I wanted to tell them EVERYTHING, but they couldn’t have been less interested. My year abroad changed me fundamentally as a person and yet no one seemed to notice! One night I wanted to make an authentic Italian meal for them, and they agreed. However, when I indicated which Italian customs were authentic and which were false, they complained, “Well you can eat however you want, but we’re doing this our way.” I was incredulous. I could not help but think, “Wow, they have no idea what it means to adapt. They’d never last ten months in another country!”

Do you plan to go abroad again?

Now that I’m back, I can’t wait to travel again! When I do my next study abroad in college, it will probably be in another country such as Brazil or Spain. After all, Italy will always be my home.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Davis gives a wonderful description of his experience on a gap year in Italy. And although he now feels that Italy is his second home, Davis is eager to visit other areas of the world as well, for which we applaud him! He has only recently started pursuing his undergraduate degree, meaning that he still has ample opportunity to internationalize his studies. We recommend that Davis begins working towards a major in an international topic – the choices are almost endless: international relations, international business, language studies, development studies, etc. And we’d also suggest that Davis apply to study abroad for a full year in a completely different region of the world. Asia is a popular study abroad choice for students seeking enriching, exciting cross-cultural experiences. Davis is clearly proactive and excited about cross-cultural learning, so he should also consider getting involved in extra-curricular activities on campus so that he can build international skills and culturally-rich relationships while at home.

  • Majoring in International Studies offers advice on how to choose the right internationally-oriented program of study as an undergraduate.
  • 24 Ways to Go International is a key article offering strategies for building international skills at home or abroad. You can return to this list many times over the course of your studies to be sure you are maximizing the cross-cultural value of your time at school.
  • The Ideal International Profile will help you look ahead and consider what skills you’ll need in order to build an international career for yourself.
Davis's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
Discover the Career Value of Going Abroad
Get the facts! See surveys and stats linking your experiences abroad to future career success.
Sample Application Documents: See How Others Did It!
Get inspired by actual documents that real students used to apply for internships, volunteer positions and other go abroad experiences.
In a Rush? Read These Articles First
These carefully chosen articles will lead you to our most important go abroad strategies!
Quick Guides! Our Most Popular Go Abroad Topics
View, print or share our easy-to-use guides available in English, French and Spanish.
The World Online
Want to stay in touch with the world? Check out these top (and sometime quirky) links!
Are You Prepared for the International Job Search?
How much do you know about international jobs in your field? Get ready for a targeted job search!
Do You Have Enough International Experience?
Have you maximized your international experience? Are you ready for the international job search? Find out!
What's Your International IQ?
How much do you really know about living and working abroad? Take this quiz to find out!
Quizzes: Your Master Scorecard
Check your scores for all quiz categories: international skills, experience & the job search.
Earn $25 Gift Card & Submit Your Story From Abroad
Been abroad? Want to share your story? Submit your Q&A today to see your experience online!
Self-Evaluations: Think Analytically About Going Abroad
Keep track of your evolving international skill set before, during and after your international experience. Be ready to apply for jobs in the global economy.
Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
What does it take for an international student to succeed in North America? We’ve got tips to help you thrive!
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to all your questions about MyWorldAbroad by diving into our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Top Tips on Going Abroad & Your Career
Scan our top tips in 40 go abroad subject areas: international skills, getting experience, finding work, and the professions.
Your International Resume & LinkedIn
Write your international resume first, and then create that all-important LinkedIn profile.
International Skills: Be More Than Just a Tourist!
International people have a unique skill set. Learn the terminology and get professional about describing your time abroad.
100+ Career-boosting Strategies While Abroad
Discover enterprising, innovative ideas for how to demonstrate your international skills to future employers.
9782
- # of # Filtered -
  • 82
82
14088
An Eye-Opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
1
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
2
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
3
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
4
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
5
10851
Tips From Tasmania
6
9807
Fast Friendship In Korea
7
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
8
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
9
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
10
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
11
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
12
9784
Skill-Building In Bonn
13
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
14
9762
American Freshman In London
15
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
16
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
17
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
18
9741
Adapting To Work In Peru
19
9773
Independent In India
20
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
21
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
22
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
23
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
24
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
25
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
26
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
27
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
28
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
29
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
30
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
31
9771
Learning To Love London
32
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
33
9737
Passionate About Panama
34
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
35
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
36
9787
A Spring Semester In London
37
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
38
10192
Out And About In Paris
39
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
40
10157
Changing Course In China
41
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
42
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
43
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
44
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
45
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
46
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
47
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
48
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
49
9753
A Season In Sweden
50
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
51
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
52
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
53
9752
Giving In Guatemala
54
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
55
9748
Adventure In The Alps
56
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
57
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
58
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
59
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
60
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
61
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
62
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
63
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
64
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
65
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
66
9765
Simpatico In Florence
67
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
68
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
69
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
70
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
71
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
72
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
73
9817
A Bulgarian In England
74
9754
Building Memories In India
75
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
76
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
77
9756
Springtime In Spain
78
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
79
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
80
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
81
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
82
9782
All Job Boards
429
All NGOs
1566
Au Pair Resources
36
Awards and Grants Resources
30
Business and Finance Job Boards
67
Business Directories
21
Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Profiles
64
Canadian Government Resources
26
Children and Families Abroad
21
Country Guides
51
Cross-cultural Skills
101
Engineering Job Boards
58
Engineering Resources
61
Expatriate Networking Sites
21
Foreign Students Working in the US
10
Freelancing Abroad
21
General Job Search
23
Global Education and Social Action
29
Health and Medicine Job Boards
52
Health Career Resources
40
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
32
International Development Career Resources
46
International Internship Job Boards and Advice
51
International Internship Organizations
312
International Internships and Student Programs With Canadian Governments
35
International Internships With the US Government
40
International Job Hunting Resources
14
International Law Careers Resources
96
International Law Job Boards
24
International Studies in the US and Canada
12
International Trade Resources
28
International Volunteer Organizations
494
Internships With the UN and Other IGOs
150
Language Careers
31
Learn a Language
104
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
27
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
13
Loans for Studying Abroad
13
Low-cost Travel
28
NGO Directories
32
NGO Job Boards
41
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
132
Relocating Abroad
19
Resources for International Students Studying in the US or Canada
49
Stories From Abroad
82
Study Abroad Resources
189
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
109
Teach English Abroad Resources
61
Tools for Travelers
39
Top International Blogs
39
Travel Health and Safety
38
UN and Other IGOs
234
UN and Other IGOs Job Boards
18
UN and Other IGOs Resources
17
US Government Profiles
80
US Government Resources
34
Visas and Passports
16
Volunteer Job Boards and Advice
53
Women Living and Working Overseas
15
Working Vacation Resources
59