11 Weeks in Italy Coming to a Close

My journey to Italy has drawn to a close and I am now less than 12 hours from being at home with my family.  The experience I have had in the past 11 weeks is one that words can only begin to describe.  I never imagined how great the impact this experience would have on my personal growth and my outlook on the world around me.

I immersed myself into the Italian culture the best I could; I learned some Italian, ate more pizza and pasta than I care to admit, and became a functioning “local” once I finally understood the metro, buses, business hours, and cultural norms.

You always hear that study abroad changes people, and I spent the majority of my time wondering what would change about me when I got home.  But now I’m beginning to realize that studying abroad does not change you, it simply brings your inner quirks to the surface so they can’t be hidden away.  Growing to accept these quirks and let the world shed light on them has been gratifying.  One small change I do hope to see come back with me to the States was my development in social settings; it is amazing how much you actually hear when you are really listening—without the noise of social media and technology buzzing in the background.

On my trip, I visited so many places that I’ve seen in movies and read about in books.  Seeing the canals of Venice, spending time in Portofino’s yacht country, hiking the trails of the Cinque Terre, wishing my dad a Happy Father’s Day from Pisa, listening to Pope Francis speak in St. Peter’s Square, relaxing at Lake Maggiore near the Italian Alps, revisiting the beaches of Cinque Terre to celebrate my birthday with old and new friends, and relaxing before finals on the nice beaches of Nice were all luxuries for which I am grateful.

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I never thought the goodbyes would be so hard.  Two sessions of friends, each leaving after 5 weeks, made for twice the goodbyes and toasts to newfound friendships.  The bond that I developed with my classmates is monumental.  I’m already planning my trips across the United States to revisit new friends.  This summer has been the most surprising, heartwarming, eye-opening experience I could have ever wished for, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


-Nick Ostertag

Ciao from Torino, Italy!

Ciao Amici!

I arrived in Torino one week ago and the experience is already flying by.  The culture here is very different than back in the States, and I’m still trying to adjust.  The biggest challenge so far has been the language barrier; Torino isn’t much of a tourist town so many people don’t speak English.  Luckily, this has really helped me jump head first into the culture and really begin to learn the language, with the help of a few locals.  There seems to be no concept of time here, with shops closing for the afternoons, dinners starting well into the night, three hour meals, and no one seems to be in a hurry.  It’s also taken some time to learn how to navigate public transportation and assimilate to other cultural norms.

I have had a week of classes at Scuola di Amministrazione Aziendale and the course sizes are great!  I have ten students in my management class, and only three in my Italian class!  The one-on-one attention and discussions in class are really interesting and I’m enjoying it–even with the homework.

We have taken two tours already throughout the city and to Alba in the Piedmont region and it’s beautiful!  There is so much history to see in the historic churches and castles–it’s nothing like I have ever experienced.

One of the best perks of being in Italy are all the different cities to visit: Rome, Venice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Florence, Naples, Bologna, Sicily, Tuscany.  There are so many places to visit and so little time!  The trips to Venice and Rome are already planned, but now I have to figure out the best weekends for the others!

One piece of advice I have is to budget your money (I guess that’s the accounting major in me talking).  I always forget how much the euro is inflated compared to the dollar… and then I look at my bank account.  The trips add up quickly, but when you’re abroad it all seems to be worth it!

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for these next nine weeks!



Nick Ostertag