University’s Prato Campus Opens the Door for Travel

Italy is a beautiful country, and this past fall I had the privilege of studying abroad at the university’s Prato campus. Aside from the experience everyone thinks about, the classes, studying abroad in Europe, since all of the countries are so close together, provides a unique opportunity to see the entirety of the continent. France, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, England, Ireland: all amazing destinations and all within reach. The opportunity also arose to travel within Italy, as well.

The travel compliments the courses, which allowed me to see what we were discussing in class in real life, and in the case of Italian, apply it to my everyday life. The Fall 2017 group was smaller than usual; it was easy to get to know different people within the program that I may not have met or interacted with otherwise.

The food was like its own destination. Bar San Francesco, Bar Magnolfi, and Bon Per Te were all places that I frequented so often, they got to know me and exactly what I liked. No matter where I went in Italy, the food was always delicious. Every region has its own specialty, so there’s always something new and interesting to try that you might not find anywhere else.

The people in the restaurants on the university’s meal voucher list are happy to help you practice your Italian, and the University offers a language exchange program with some people our age from the community, allowing  for some extra practice, as well as the chance to get to know the locals and make a new Italian friend.

The best place outside of Italy that I visited was probably London, England. My friend and I stayed just outside of the city in the quiet little neighborhood of Tulse Hill, visiting sights like Oxford Street, Abbey Road, the London Eye, and so much more throughout the day. We spent ten days there over the mid-semester fall break, and it reminded me a lot of New York City, just with British accents. The second-best destination is a toss up between Interlaken, Switzerland and Paris, France, as both had such beautiful scenery and so much to discover.

My favorite places within Italy, besides Prato, would probably have to be Catania in Sicily, or Sorrento and Capri. Not only was southern Italy far warmer than the northern portion, and just as beautiful in its own way, but the people there were just as friendly and inviting as I found them to be in Prato.

Spending 108 days abroad at the Tuscany campus was an unforgettable experience and an amazing opportunity, and if I was given the choice to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat.