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 in September and lived there until June. 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?
10 Core Global Competencies
Take control of your career with this ESSENTIAL model!
Virtual Internships in 2021!
Remote work is the way of the future! Start planning YOUR virtual international internship now.
The 1-Year & 4-Year Global Mindset Maps!
Don't miss your blueprint for success! Set goals & take action to build the Global You.
The Global You
What skills, knowledge and experiences can change your life? Find out with this NEW model!
Quizzes & Scorecard
Take these simple quizzes to assess your international skills, experiences & job search readiness!
The Culture Tree
EXPLORE the three levels of culture!
9782
- # of # Filtered -
  • 102
102
16382
Making the Most of Lockdown with a Virtual Internship
1
16392
Building International Career Skills Online
2
16387
An Epic Internship in Malaysia
3
16312
Virtual Internship for a Cross-cultural Future
4
16320
Independent, International, Virtual! A UN Internship Online
5
16316
Exploring the Sights, Sounds & Tastes of Mexico City
6
16157
Zoom Zoom! A Virtual Internship with Central America
7
9756
Springtime In Spain
8
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
9
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
10
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
11
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
12
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
13
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
14
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
15
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
16
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
17
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
18
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
19
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
20
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
21
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
22
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
23
9754
Building Memories In India
24
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
25
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
26
9748
Adventure In The Alps
27
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
28
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
29
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
30
9762
American Freshman In London
31
9771
Learning To Love London
32
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
33
9773
Independent In India
34
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
35
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
36
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
37
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
38
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
39
9741
Adapting to Work In Peru
40
9784
Skill-building in Bonn
41
9753
A Season in Sweden
42
9765
Simpatico in Florence
43
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
44
9737
Passionate About Panama
45
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
46
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
47
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
48
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
49
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
50
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
51
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
52
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
53
16174
An Empowering Virtual Internship in Nicaragua
54
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
55
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
56
16161
A Bright & Friendly Cross-cultural Workspace
57
15401
From Korea to Oman: Teaching English Around the World!
58
16017
A Globally-minded Visit to Qatar
59
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
60
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
61
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
62
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
63
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
64
15333
A Literary Education in the UK
65
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
66
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
67
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
68
14088
An Eye-opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
69
15347
12 Months, 12 Countries!
70
14594
Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
71
15405
From Daydream to Reality: Teaching Abroad
72
15383
Hustle and Bustle in Vietnam
73
15327
An Open Mind & Open Arms in Spain
74
15387
Bliss on a Budget in Brazil
75
15631
An International Career in the Making: Asia, Africa and Beyond
76
15644
Discovering the World on Campus: International Skills at Home
77
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
78
9752
Giving In Guatemala
79
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
80
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
81
9807
Fast Friendship in Korea
82
9787
A Spring Semester in London
83
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern in Rome
84
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
85
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
86
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
87
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
88
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
89
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
90
10851
Tips From Tasmania
91
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
92
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
93
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
94
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
95
10157
Changing Course In China
96
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
97
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
98
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
99
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
100
10192
Out And About In Paris
101
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
102
9782
All Job Boards
462
All NGOs
1429
Au Pair Resources
39
Awards And Grants Resources
53
Business Directories
18
Canadian Federal, Provincial And Territorial Government Profiles
60
Canadian Government Resources
27
Children And Families Abroad
16
Consulting, Economic And Finance Job Boards
63
Country Guides
70
Cross-cultural Skills
80
Engineering Job Boards
59
Engineering Resources
81
Expatriate Networking Sites
32
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
27
General Job Search Books
15
Global Education And Social Action
45
Health And Medicine Job Boards
49
Health Career Resources
67
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
43
International Development Career Resources
75
International Internship Organizations
310
International Internships And Student Programs With Canadian Governments
35
International Internships With The US Government
37
International Job Hunting Resources
14
International Law Careers Resources
113
International Law Job Boards
26
International Studies In The US And Canada
11
International Trade Resources
25
International Volunteer Organizations
492
Internship Directories And Advice
37
Internships With The UN And Other IGOs
157
Language Careers
30
Learn A Language
108
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
28
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
31
Loans for Studying Abroad
18
Low-cost Travel
63
NGO Directories
33
NGO Job Boards
47
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
102
Relocating Abroad
26
Resources For International Students Studying In Canada
17
Resources For International Students Studying In The US
46
Stories From Abroad
102
Study Abroad Resources
185
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
99
Teach English Abroad Resources
64
Tools for Travelers
72
Top International Blogs & Podcasts
85
Travel Health And Safety
39
UN and Other IGOs
269
UN And Other IGOs Job Boards
26
UN And Other IGOs Resources
73
US Government Profiles
76
US Government Resources
36
Virtual International Internship Organizations
89
Visas and Passports
26
Volunteer Directories And Advice
50
Women Living And Working Overseas
18
Working Holiday Resources
73