Credit: Sara Parece
COLA:Tell us a bit about yourself:
Sara: My name is Sarah Parece, and I will be a junior this fall. I am majoring in Italian Studies, hopefully with a minor in psychology. My plan is to go into the Education program. I’m from Martha’s Vineyard, so you can usually find me on the beach, drinking coffee, and reading a cheesy beach read.
COLA: Why did you choose the Ascoli program?
Sara: I chose the Ascoli program because I’ve always dreamed of going to Italy and I wanted the complete Italian experience. Being in Ascoli allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and practice the language as much as possible.
COLA: How did you finance your semester in Italy? (How did you fund your time abroad?)
Sara: Luckily my parents helped out a lot with my semester. Besides that, working for the summer on the Vineyard helped a lot to get as much money as I could before the semester. I also worked over winter break. The tour company, Bus2Alps, also was a great way to plan trips on weekends without spending too much money.
COLA: How was it being immersed in a new language? Did you pick it up from them and how did it affect your day-to-day life?
Sara: I had taken one and a half years of Italian before the program, but I still was nowhere near fluent when I arrived. I think what helped the most was just practicing as much as I could, which included speaking Italian with the other students in my house. I also loved speaking to university students to practice my Italian because they just love to hear that I am trying. If I mess up a word or verb conjugation (which happened a lot!), they wouldn’t laugh but instead would help me learn their language. I had to learn how to order food, including ordering meat in the grocery store which is harder than I thought! Every day was a learning experience in Ascoli.
COLA: What will be your best memory of being in Ascoli?
Sara: I think my best memory in Ascoli would have to be Carnevale. It started right after our orientation and therefore was the first week of really starting our study abroad experience. It was truly a great way to get to know everyone in the program, as well as get to know Ascoli and the Ascoli people. It immediately pushed us to join in Italian culture by attending different events and meeting new people in the Piazza.
COLA: Did you have a chance to explore Ascoli and other cities in Italy?
Sara: Luckily I was able to travel a lot, however I also went on my study abroad with a strong reminder to stop and explore the city I am in as well. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that. You are finally in Europe and can easily hop country to country, and forget about exploring the city you are actually in. We spent several weekdays and weekends exploring Ascoli and meeting the Ascoli people. We also spent several weekends exploring other cities in Italy, and enjoyed talking about the differences between the north and south, or just the cities themselves. However, I can honestly say that we all were happy to return to Ascoli when the hectic weekend travels were over.
COLA: How has it been readjusting to life in the US?
Sara: There were truly some mixed feelings when it came to coming home. I was happy to be home and see my friends again, and there were definitely some American things that I missed, but I truly missed Ascoli and the friends I had made. I still miss Ascoli to this day, but readjusting has gotten easier as the weeks go by. It was funny getting used to remembering that people could actually understand you in a café, and it took me about five minutes to figure out which one of my coins was a quarter. I am happy to be home but I also know that I will definitely have to return to Ascoli one day.