Undergraduate institution: Indiana University
Undergraduate major and minor: Theatre major, Italian minor
What have you been up to since attending Umbra?
Since attending Umbra in 2009, I first moved to Portland, Oregon after school, and in 2013, I moved to Brooklyn. I have continued making music; helped manage art studios here in Williamsburg; and worked in education, real estate, and in a tech startup.
How has studying abroad impacted your life both personally and professionally?
Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to connect with the stories, history, and present day culture of a place completely unlike that which I had grown up with. This gives a neat broadening of perspective. In addition, it gave me the confidence that comes with interacting with people there, in their language. It was not always easy, and I left a better Italian student than when I had arrived. Professionally, especially in New York, there have been times where I have been able to strongly connect with people more so do to my ability to speak with them in Italian. I have enjoyed speaking in Italian with parents at schools I have worked in, customers at coffee shops, and clients at the tech startup.
What are you doing now?
Right now, I am working on some new recordings and playing some shows with my band here in Brooklyn.
Are you still in touch with the friends you made in Perugia?
It has been seven years, but a couple of us actually do keep in touch every now and then. I have not seen them in a long time, but I look forward to it!
What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective students thinking of studying abroad?
Regardless of whether or not you are studying Italian specifically, make time to study Italian before you go (If you are already studying Italian, do a little more each day on your own than you normally would!). This is such a unique opportunity to grow your language skills. It will give you the chance to have a lot more interactions with people, which will help you feel more comfortable and develop your language skills quickly while in Italy. And today, there are so many ways to learn affordably or for free. I recommend Pimsleur audio recordings, and Duolingo is great. Also, I see Spotify has recently released a “Learn Italian” playlist.
What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying abroad (during or after their experience)?
During your time studying abroad, meditating really helps to clear your mind for taking in all that you are learning (and learning so much so quickly). It is no substitute for sleep regularity and eating well, but it is a tremendous help…oh no, I have become your serious uncle Francesco!