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Institute at Palazzo Rucellai
Via della Vigna Nuova, 18
Florence, Italy 50123

Gabrielle Howe

Home Institution: University of Connecticut

Semester in Florence: Fall 2009

Currently: I am finishing my bachelor’s degree in animal science in May 2010. My current plan is to get a job with the United States Department of Agriculture or a similar organization. I want to do something with agriculture and the environment that will help a large group of people and not just one company. From my two study abroad experiences I have developed a love of experiencing and becoming part of different cultures and it would be amazing if somehow that could fit into my job.

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: The first memorable experience I remember is walking down the streets for the first time and realizing how beautiful Florence is. What made it incredible was everyday I would walk past the same decadent cathedral and it still felt just as amazing. Through the buildings history seems to be alive and relevant. The people there are so much more global citizens, caring about what was happening in other countries. Having that different perspective really illuminated the fact that the US is only a small part of the world. It drove home the point to me that we all have to know and understand each other’s culture if anything is going to get done. What was really unique about my experience was getting to meet some of the Italians on the farms. I was able to live and work on farms near Florence that produced wine, olive oil, cheese and beef. Being an agricultural student it was surprising to learn how they approach agriculture from a completely different mindset. In a way it was artistic, just like their art and buildings are beautiful as well as functional. The best part of my trip was after being there a couple of months and I had learned enough Italian to be able to speak with them. Since I lived on the farms it was occasionally imperative that I be able to converse with them in their language. They were so impressed and I felt like they were more open with me when I was able to speak with them in Italian. 

Advice for Future Students: Do not be afraid to get out and be with the Italians where they hang out. Americans tend to congregate in certain places by themselves. You will not experience the culture or learn much of anything there. The best way to get out of the comfort bubble would be to find someone else who wants to experience the culture with you. That way you will feel comfortable when you go to places you know little about. Florence is generally a safe place so there is no reason why you cannot explore. Also, travel in Italy and other countries as much as you can. While you are in Europe you should spend as much time as possible exploring. Make your hometown part of the exploration though. So much of the richness of the experience is in the day-to-day happenings of the city. On a final note, studying abroad was the best thing I ever did and it is an opportunity you will not want to miss!

Corey Stokes

Home Institution: University of Connecticut

Semester in Florence: Fall 2009

Currently: Currently I am finishing courses to receive my degree in Human Development and Family Studies in May 2010. After I graduate I plan on going back to Italy! I have created a profile on an Au Pair website and have been in contact with several Italian families who live in the Tuscany Region. I fell in love with the country and the people of Italy and I have been working on a plan to move back for 6-12 months. Studying abroad was the small spark that set flame to my love of traveling. Before I dive into a career, I would like to travel more, and learn more about cultures and ways of life that are different from my own.

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: Walking out of my apartment every morning took my breath away! It was like a dream. Having the beautiful language of Italian fill my ears everyday is something that I miss so much! Just the surroundings of Florence was something that I tried to appreciate, and not take advantage of, everyday. I remember simple things, like trips to the market or enjoying a café latte in a bar, most fondly. Another great memory I have was just attending my classes everyday. I enjoyed the walk to school, early in the morning, when the city was almost quiet. And I loved walking into the main building and being greeted by Katie, Daniele, and Serena. They always put a smile on my face.

Advice for Future Students: EXPLORE!!! Go out and get lost!! Florence is one of the most beautiful places to walk around aimlessly in! Put in effort to learn the language and interact with locals. It will make your time there more worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to try new things! Try and do something new everyday. Whether it be checking out a different piazza, or going to a new restaurant, there is too much to do in Florence to go to the same place more than a few times! Take advantage of the trips and activities that the school organizes as well. If it wasn’t for Palazzo Rucellai, I would have never witnessed Festa della Rificolona, or learned how to make home-made gnocchi! It is truly an amazing opportunity to study in this city and words simply cannot describe how incredible the experience is!

Jessica Arden Ettinger

Home Institution: University of Virginia

Semester in Florence: Fall 2009

Currently: I am currently finishing my third year at the University of Virginia, pursuing a dual-major in Art History and English. I plan to graduate in May 2011.

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: My most memorable experiences while abroad were getting to see in person all the things I had studied in the classroom on a projected screen. There is something magical about seeing a Michelangelo sculpture in person, or looking at Titian’s masterpieces hanging right in front of you; going to the Galleria Palatina was like going to visit a few hundred of my closest friends. When else in your college career can you boast that you studied for your final exam by going to the Uffizi? And of course, so much is just a stone’s throw from Florence – it was easy to hop on a train and see the sixth-century mosaics in Ravenna, or a temporary Caravaggio exhibit at the Villa Borghese in Rome. If I had to pick one thing that I remember more than anything else, it was probably planning a road trip with two other girls I met while studying abroad – we flew to Paris, and then rented a car and drove back to Florence, stopping to see famous castles and cathedrals along the way. Ten days without class, a car, three girls, and Europe? Talk about priceless.

Advice for Future Students: Traveling from country to country is great, and if you can you should take some time to get outside Italy and see what neighboring European countries are like. At the same time, though, recognize that Italy is a very diverse country, and traveling just within its borders does not mean you are seeing the same things over and over. Southern Italy is nothing like northern Italy, and both are worth seeing – go see Pompeii and swim in the Mediterranean, and then take a train up north and see Milan, the fashion capital of the world. And last but not least (though it may sound silly), go to class! The professors at the Institute are fantastic, and have so much to share with you. It’s not just lecture after lecture; it’s getting a basic lesson in the classroom and then being on-site, standing in front of a painting, or a garden, or a building that you could only otherwise see in a textbook. You’re in Italy – take advantage of it!

CT Nguyen

Home Institution: Roger Williams University

Semester in Florence: Fall 2009

Currently: I am back in Roger Williams University to finish up my junior here. I will be graduating in May 2011 with a major in Communications/Public Relations and a minor in e-business. After graduation, I am planning to go back in Italy to visit my parents since they live in Rome because of my father’s diplomatic mission, and definitely do a lot more traveling. I want to explore many different things that Italy has to offer. As a temporary resident of Italy, I feel like it provides me with a lot of opportunities to learn and acknowledge the beautiful traditions of Italian.

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: Be around an environment where I feel like there are new things to explore every day is something that I will never be able to forget. From the view of Florence from Piazza Michelangelo during sunset, to the walk through Piazza della Repubblica, there is always something new and unusual that is happening every day. I am amazed by the atmosphere and the environment that the beautiful city of Florence has to offer. Interact with the friendly and helpful faculty members of Palazzo Rucellai is also something that makes my experience a lot better. The professors are really knowledgeable and I feel like the information that I learned will help me with a lot more things that I have to do in the future. Living in the city and be able to walk to everywhere that I want to go is also something that I miss. It is not something that I can do in the states, I really enjoy the fact I can go grocery shopping with my backpack, or go to my internship with the Florence Newspaper, all by walking. The people that I met here, the places that I went to and the friends that I made during my time in Florence will something I will treasure for a long time.

Advice for Future Students: Be friendly and outgoing! Study abroad is not the time for you to be shy and quiet. Go out and explore the city every chance that you get because you will be surprise by the things that you see every day. Eat the food, taste the wine and talk to Florentines (try to use as much Italian as you can.) Don’t take anything that you have for granted because I guarantee you will MISS it! Travel to difference countries as well; there won’t be another opportunity where your friends and you can experience Europe with as much fun as you will have.

Rachel Ricciardi

Home Institution: Roger Williams University

Semester in Florence: Fall 2009

Currently: Currently I am a junior at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, majoring in Environmental Science and minoring in Italian; however, I hope to change Italian to a second major. From studying abroad in Florence, I really picked up on a whole new way of living, all the while learning more of the Italian language every day. I don’t like planning too far in advance, but I know one thing is for sure, I will return to Italy someday after I graduate to visit my Italian family again.

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: Although I just returned from Italy a little over a month ago, looking back at my semester abroad almost seems like a dream. Opening up my bedroom window, I had a view of the top of the Duomo, and walking down my street, the synagogue Tempio Maggiore loomed overhead. Despite all of the trips the school provided to travel outside of Florence, I feel like I had the most adventures within the city itself. I attended a Fiorentina soccer game, operas, and an aperitivo and dinner with Italian students attending the University of Florence for my Italian classes taught by Emanuela and David from the Institute. I was lucky enough to get a backstage tour in Italian of Teatro della Pergola and enjoy class-time walking tours in the city, only to realize that Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti secretly are connected. Take advantage of the cooking classes that they offer; you won’t regret it! I also had a knack for exploring the side streets with friends, discovering a great café, standing at their bar, and sharing an espresso, pastry, or panini. And how could I forget the infamous Christmas markets at Santa Croce, the many bike riders, and crazy drivers on the cobblestone streets (watch out!)? Then there was the transformation of the city into a festival of lights, consisting of a huge twinkling tree in Piazza della Repubblica and lights strung throughout the Florentine streets that lit up even the darkest of nights. Most importantly, I began seeing the world from a different view: behind a lens. My photography class escapades opened my eyes to looking at even the simplest of things, seeing something beautiful and unique out of something so ordinary. Florence, Italy IS my second home thanks to Palazzo Rucellai.

Advice for Future Students: Do as the Florentine’s do. Try to assimilate into their culture, their traditions, & their every day life. Attempt to learn and speak Italian to your professors, classmates, the great staff members, such as Serena, Daniele, and Caterina, and converse with Italians in their shops or at the market; they truly appreciate it. Visit Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks all of Florence. Be prepared for the mosquitoes that make your apartment their new home! Stay updated with the Italian news and grab a newspaper in the morning on your walk to school. Be adventurous and travel to places you never thought you’d travel to before. Most of all, everyone informs you of the culture shock when you get there, but they don’t warn you about the culture shock when you return!

Tiffany Schroeder

Home Institution: University of Connecticut

Semester in Florence: Fall 2009

Currently: Currently I am back in the United States finishing up my last semester at UConn. I will be graduating with as a Biology major with a Chemistry minor. There is not a day that goes by when Florence does not cross my mind. I was so lucky to finish my plan of study on time as well as study abroad. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me and hope that everyone takes the chance to experience studying abroad, especially Florence!

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: One of my most memorable experiences was finding out that I was going to live in an apartment with 10 girls while studying abroad. At first hesitant and anxious, it was almost immediate that the bonds began to grow, forming a family with strangers sharing the same experience as myself. We traveled together, went to school together, and prepared an amazing Thanksgiving dinner, even without an oven! My group of friends and I were so lucky to have such an amazing living situation making our experience much different than the rest. Then again, the experience is what you make it and hope to get out of living in a foreign country. There also are the memories of going to the market, getting your chicken from your favorite meat man and fresh fruit from the old man who had the best looking strawberries. Although it took some getting used to, the idea of buying fresh food from local vendors of Florence, Italy was something I took for granted and wish I could do now that I’m back at home. Lastly, I cannot forget the faculty and staff of Palazzo Rucellai that made my experience rewarding and memorable. If it were not for them I would have never attended a soccer game or the two cooking classes that I did. I also would not have been as knowledgeable about the language of Italian or the outstanding art work that is just minutes away from the school. I love and miss them all so much!

Advice for Future Students: Some advice for prospective students is to enter the experience of studying abroad with an open mind. Taste the wine, eat food you’ve never thought you’d enjoy and do not stay in your apartment during the week. Walk past the Duomo everyday and watch the sunset at Palazzo Michelangelo, even if it is a little far away. Also, use your Italian! The Florentines will enjoy it and you will be able to impress your friends when you get home. Of course you should also leave some time for school work, but take all the opportunities that are given to you. When in Florence live life in the moment because this is your only time to be fully emerged in a new culture and the people around you. Good luck and enjoy!

Katlyn Robinson

Home Institution: University of Virginia

Semester in Florence: Fall 2009

Currently: I am currently in my last semester at the University of Virginia. I will be graduating in the spring with a BA in Architectural History. I plan to look for work in the field in the New York City Area.

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: There are so many things to remember fondly from my time at the Institute. Even the little, everyday experiences, like shopping at the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) or running along the Arno, have fond thoughts attached to them. The day trips to Chianti, Siena and Pisa do not seem real anymore; the memories feel more like a daydream idealizing a sunny day in Tuscany. Did I really spend an afternoon at a medieval castle tasting Chianti and olive oil? Did I actually run a 10k through the Boboli Gardens? I will never forget walking through Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius looming over-head. Nor will it ever slip my mind that I drove from Paris to Florence in an eight-day whirlwind, adventure. I got to visit places I only thought existed in textbooks. I cooked with fresh Italian ingredients and enjoyed many meals.
But it’s the people that make it all worthwhile. It’s the energetic professors who walk you around Florence and take you on field trips to Rome and Venice; they teach what they love and it shows. It’s the roommates you share it all with, who you’ll call across the US in order to reminisce with months later. It’s the Italians who shared their food, their culture, and their home with you. These are what make the memories you’ll have forever—they’re what made mine.

Advice for Future Students: Be open. Realize that everyone else studying with Palazzo Rucellai is in the same boat; No one else has lived in Florence, Italy before. Try new things and try not to come with people you already know. There are so many interesting new faces at the Institute you need to meet. Don’t let your own view of yourself hold you back. Have energy! Get up and get out. You’ll only be there for three and half months...and it goes faster than you think. Travel—a lot! Go all over Europe if you like but remember Italy is, well, ITALY. Every Italian city has something ancient, unique, and delicious. Don’t pass up the opportunity to see the country you chose to stay in. Speak Italian, even if you’ve NEVER spoken it before. You’ll have better experiences and probably laugh a little more. Be happy—you’re in Italy!

... and take pictures—with you in them! Even if you have to run to catch up with the group, it’s worth it. You’ll be looking at them everyday for the rest of your life, so you’re going to want a good variety.

Jennifer Connor

Home Institution: Penn State University

Semester in Florence: Spring 2009 

Currently: Being a Journalism and Anthropology major and junior to-be this upcoming fall, this summer I have an internship at the Montgomery County “Ticket,” an arts and entertainment magazine. Due to my recent Italian experience, my new editor decided to assign me a rather thrilling first story; I would interview Patrizio Buanne, the Italian heart-throb and “Voice of Romance.” Since this was my first interview I could feel my nerves getting the best of me, but when Patrizio spoke his first “Hello,” in that now familiar and comforting Italian accent, the questions came effortlessly. Later that week after my first story was published, I attended his concert with my mom on complimentary tickets. It was so great to share this Italian experience with her, since she was unable to visit me in Italy. Following the show, Patrizio did a signing and when it was my turn I was received with an enthusiastic “Jennifer!”(I love how Italians say my name!), and an announcement to everyone in the lobby that this was my first story and I was going to be a journalist. I don’t think I could ever forget the generosity, enchantment, and kindness of the Italian people. My Florence experience is endless. 

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: During my semester in Florence, I was able to be an intern tour guide of the secret passageways tour at Palazzo Vecchio. I cannot remember a single tour that stood out above the rest, but I do remember the feeling of contentment and excitement I had each time I went to work. I got to meet so many different people of many different nationalities, and participate in illuminating some treasures of a city I have come to love. A particular aspect of Florence that will be forever present in my mind are the breath-taking views of the Arno and surrounding natural beauty. My Florence experience is endless. 

Advice for Future Students: Just remember that first and foremost this experience is completely your own. There is nothing you “have to” see or “have to” do. Just trust yourself and know that however you spend your time or whatever you experience will be yours. Throughout your time at Palazzo Rucellai you will notice many changes in your mentalities as you discover this new culture. Embraced by two of my professors, Ms. Sarah Barker, and Marcello Bellini, was the practice of journal entries. I found this practice very valuable and also kept a journal of my own. It is intriguing to go back and read the entries at the beginning, and throughout your stay in Florence - to see what surprised you, inspired you, or frustrated you! Lastly, I remember frantically trying to hold on to Florence, even as I said goodbye, but due to recent experiences in my home town in Pennsylvania – from Maurizio, the Sicilian owner of a local pizza place who generously allows me to practice my Italian with him, to the enchantment that lights up the faces of Italian-Americans when they speak of Italy, to the kindness felt in Patrizio Buanne’s performance – I can assure you, your Florence experience will be endless.

Rachel Couch

Home Institution: The University of Virginia

Semester in Florence: Spring 2009

Currently: I'm currently back in the United States enjoying the Virginian mountains, working, and planning on going back to school in the fall for another two years to work on my English Literature and Italian double major.

Memorable Experiences at the Institute: I will remember the welcoming feel of the Institute especially. All of us had left our homes and our universities and the Institute did a great job of giving us an anchor while we were so far away from the United States. I think my favorite moments at the Palazzo Rucellai were in my Italian class with Elena. We were in class so often together, learning Italian, that we came to be really close at the end of the semester. It's really great to have friends back home now that can relate to my experience in Florence and the Institute made that possible.

Advice for Future Students: I think your experience in Florence can be whatever you want it to be. Personally, I really valued the weekends I spent in Florence - try to really get to know the city as opposed to traveling at every opportunity. Also, attempt to insert yourself into the lifestyle and become a Florentine. A lot of my favorite moments were at the San Lorenzo Market making friends with the vendors, in cafes talking to the people working, and wandering in the streets for hours. The Italians are an absolutely wonderful people and you have a unique opportunity to talk to and really get to know them, something they appreciate and inspires them to give back to you in return. Florence is one of the most beautiful and inspiring cities in the world. If you are open to it, it can become another home. Enjoy it to its fullest potential!

Diana Zahuranec

Home Institution: Penn State University

Semester in Florence: Spring 2009

Currently: I am in Milan doing an internship at the U.S. Consulate in the Public Affairs department. I just finished my junior year at Penn State, and my majors are Cultural Anthropology and Italian. Studying abroad in Florence was the single best college decision I have made so far. The city is beautiful and, while later in the semester popular sites are crowded with tourists, Florence has somehow remained untouched and completely authentic.

Memorable Experiences at the Institute: Every class in the Palazzo Rucellai program integrates excursions—that is, small field trips usually within the class time that show students the real Florence. It is easy to follow the tourist crowds or go everywhere with a large group of Americans who will understand you, but these excursions take you beyond that kind of experience. I sat in what used to be the Medici box seats at Teatro della Pergola, saw artisans at work in the Oltrarno part of Florence, saw everything from fresh and dried fruits to cow stomach (and beyond) at the Mercato Centrale, and tasted wine like a pro at 11:00 am. 
Outside of the Palazzo Rucellai program…the list of memorable experiences would fill a novel. Weekend trips and breaks held many adventures, but when I remember Florence I think first of the daily activities: Buying fresh produce at the local piazza market, walking across the Arno River, visiting the museums and sites, and going out with my roommates is what I think of. 

Advice for Future Students: Do everything! This experience is what you make out of it. I would especially recommend getting the Amici degli Uffizi card from the Uffizi museum. You pay a one-time fee for access to all the popular sites in Florence. Plus, you get to pass all the lines. Also: See Piazzale Michelangelo right after sunset. Try lampredotto. Drink Chianti. Speak Italian as often as possible. Buy your souvenirs from San Lorenzo market. Go to aperitivo. And please, eat lots of gelato! And although studying is the last thing on your mind while in an exciting and beautiful new country, study when you first get the time. Get all that out of the way so you have all options open. And in the end, everyone who has studied abroad will tell you, “It’s a life-changing experience.” You know what? They’re completely right.

Cortney Nadolney

Home Institution: University of Connecticut 

Semester in Florence: Spring 2009 

Currently: I am currently a Junior at UConn double majoring in English and Communications with a minor in International Relations. I have always wanted to study abroad and I knew that Italy was the place. I had heard the most amazing things about the Florence program so that was my choice and it was the best decision I have ever made. Italy, and Florence in particular, are truly amazing. It offers students something that a regular college semester cannot. I learned more there than in my entire life thus far and I will remember my experience forever. 

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: I would say I have a few most memorable experiences at Palazzo Rucellai. The first is walking into the palace every Monday morning searching out Serena to laugh about what travel incidents had occurred to my roommate and me that weekend. No matter what happened Serena always took care of it and really became a friend. Another would be my very first day walking around before orientation seeing the duomo for the first time and then being taken up to Villa Montalto for orientation thinking for the first time “my life is unbelievable right now”. Another would be my classes and the realization that I go to school in a palace. The field trips were amazing! We would go to villas and gardens in Tuscany overlooking the city of Florence and all I could think was I get credit for this! This is my class! No books can teach you that. Finally, I would say the people of Florence are my absolutely most memorable experience. I know that sounds funny but to me people can make or break an experience and the people of Florence are unlike any you will ever meet. Always willing to help, always joyful and kind, by far the type of person that people should aspire to be. Whether it was the guys at Café Amerini, Caterina, Serena, any other staff member at Palazzo Rucellai or some random person on the street, everyone was amazing. 

Advice for Future Students: Take advantage of everything! Enjoy your experience because it is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity! From someone who had serious travel issues I would say run your plan by someone at Palazzo Rucellai first and see if they think it will work. We could have avoided serious issues by doing that! Be careful with money. Don’t be stingy and not do everything you want but don’t throw your money around on things you don’t want to do. Oh! Remember to do the conversion and don’t forget atm fees! That killed a lot of us! Most of all just have fun, be open to new experiences, cultures, and languages and eat the amazing food!

Marc Michaud

Home Institution: Penn State University

Semester in Florence: Spring 2009

Currently: This summer I will be living at home in Yorktown, New York and will be interning with a firm in Manhattan. Living in Europe has made me want to travel around the states to places I have never been so I hope I can find the time to do so. In August I will be going back to Penn State and will be graduating in May 2010.

Memorable Experiences at the Institute: Too many to recall but my most memorable experience was probably the Palazzo Rucellai soccer team. It was a great way to be part of the culture and play sports at the same time and we even won a few games so we made Palazzo Rucellai proud. Other than that I will always remember the staff at Palazzo Rucellai. They were always so helpful and made me feel at home all semester.

Advice for Future Students: Travel as much as possible on the weekends – no Friday classes so there is plenty of time. Play soccer, meet new people, learn as much as you can about the culture and don’t take your time in Florence for granted because it will be over before you know it. Enjoy the site visits and when you go someplace new take a lot of pictures and post them online because all of your friends and family at home will be asking to see them. If you need help with anything at all you can always ask the girls at the front desk and they will take care of you. Eat out as much as possible and get a sandwich at Salumeria Verde.

Emily DiFrank

Home Institution: Penn State University

Semester in Florence: Fall 2007

Currently: I am currently finishing up my Spring semester back at my home intuition, Penn State. Although I was lucky enough to take photography, renaissance art, and Italian while attending Palazzo Rucellai, I am back in the U.S taking classes to help me finish my degree in elementary education. In fact, my time spent in Italy has made me consider teaching outside of the country for a few years after I graduate. Sitting all day in traditional American classrooms has made me appreciate the beauty of the classrooms at Palazzo Rucellai, and I have truly missed being surrounded by such a rich culture. However, I am doing well and continuing to cook Italian meals from my cookbook every chance I get!

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai: I had so many memorable and unique experiences at Palazzo Rucellai. There was always something going on, whether we were taking a Chianti excursion or walking through the market and tasting a sandwich made of cow stomach (a local favourite!). The most memorable experience for me was a wine tasting trip I took with the class The History and Culture of Food. We were able to taste three different wines at a locally known hotel. My teacher, Peter Fischer, taught us how to taste wine like the experts by smelling and swishing. Not only did I learn some interesting information about wine, but I also had a fantastic time chatting and laughing with the class. I have used some of the wine tasting tricks at home with my family and friends and they have all been thoroughly impressed with my knowledge!

Advice for Future Students: My advice is to savor every experience you have while in Florence because the months will fly by faster than you can imagine. Do and see everything you want so that you have no regrets. Splurge on the leather purse of your dreams or a night at the Opera. You will never have an opportunity like this again, so immerse yourself in the culture of Italy. Take pictures and keep a journal so that you will always have something to help you remember your stay. Things you MUST do... see the coastline, try a bombolino ( a delicious donut!) from the market, have an appertivo with friends, taste as many flavors of gelato as you can, order in Italian, and see David’s beautiful bum!
Most importantly get to know your roommates. They are going to be some of the most interesting, amazing individuals you have ever met. Cherish those friendships and know that the bond you share will last forever and become irreplaceable.

Kate Springer

Home Institution: Penn State University

Semester in Florence: Fall 2007

Currently:  Upon returning to Penn State I immediately applied for a job and an internship with International Programs at Penn State. I am currently interning as a writer and editor for the publication, The Mosaic, a monthly magazine that highlights the travels and accomplishments of faculty and students from Penn State. I am also working as an Outreach Ambassador for Study Abroad, which enables me to give presentations to freshman about the programs Penn State offers. I often use these presentations as an outlet to talk at length about my experience in Italy. Although my internship, Club Racquetball, and classes are keeping me busy, I can’t help but daydream about a cappuccino and brioche from Café Amerini. In the future I hope to save enough money to return to Europe and travel extensively.

Most Memorable Experience at Palazzo Rucellai:  From the moment our plane landed in Firenze, the staff at Palazzo Rucellai was friendly, kind, and helpful. The Institute felt like an extended family and the palazzo became a second home. I will never forget wine tasting with Peter Fischer or our class dinner with Elena. The professors were amazing, but staff members Caterina and Serena were also incredible. One of my most memorable experiences was our first trip to Chianti, where we toured a vineyard, tasted wines, and tried traditional foods. This first glimpse into Tuscany branded me with affection not only for the Italian culture but also my new acquaintances.

Advice for Future Students:  Try everything. Eat the lampridotto sandwiches and the bistecca rare. Taste every kind of wine and order mysterious things from the menu. Earnestly attempt to learn Italian. Don’t be just another tourist in Italy. Instead, integrate yourself into the food, music, and language. Not only will the locals respect you more, but you may also make international friends in addition to the American students at Palazzo Rucellai. The people you live, study, and travel with, however, will undoubtedly become lifelong friends. Expect to return to the United States with another set of best friends, a better perception of our country, a clearer understanding of yourself, an obsession with Italian culture, and indispensable, innumerable memories.