Gina Mussio is a sophomore majoring in Journalism. She will be studying in Florence, Italy until December.
I did a lot of research before choosing a program. Athena, the program I went through, was one of the better priced programs that offered everything I wanted. I am taking a super-intensive Italian program: 18 credit hours of just Italian! It is challenging, but I have been studying the language for five years now and want to finally be proficient. I improve more every day.
I’ve been in Italy for almost two months now (I came early), but there was a ton of preparation to do beforehand! First I had to plan what I would do with my first month before I moved into my apartment. I ended up traveling and living with relatives. One of the hardest things for me was packing. I wasn’t able to bring two suitcases because I didn’t want to lug two suitcases around while I traveled from city to city during the first month. As a result, now that I’m in more of a stable location, I’ve done quite a bit of shopping. I really didn’t have many fears because this has literally been my dream for as long as I can remember (cliche, but true. I have journals from middle school that talk about my dream to live in Italy.) I was fortunate enough to travel abroad two other times, the first time to Accra, Ghana, where I worked in an orphanage for two weeks, and the second to Seoul, South Korea, where I visited my friend for ten days. These experiences definitely toughened me up and prepared me for problems such as culture shock or homesickness, although of course those things can still be problems occasionally.