Misericordia students, Jared Pinter and Matthew Boffa, describe their Study Abroad experience and express what it means to be conquered by Perugia, Italy.
24 November 2015
PERUGIA, Italy—As a result of last year’s partnership agreement with the Umbra Institute, a study abroad program in Perugia, Italy, more Misericordia students have been given the opportunity to study abroad. Jared Pinter and Matt Boffa are among the first to take advantage of this opportunity and both agree that this program was well worth it. Not only is it an affordable program that allows students to transfer credits taken at the Umbra Institute directly into their Misericordia degree program, but it is a program that brings them to Perugia, a hilltop town nestled in the green heart of Italy. Boffa waxed poetic about the experience: “You know a place has taken you when you walk down a street and locals say hi to you. They say ‘hi’ in Italian! You know a city has taken you when you walk into a shop and not only are you on a first name basis but you’re not even speaking your own language.”
When students study abroad, it is common to imagine conquering a new part of the world. Making it your own, learning the language, traveling until you know every landmark, every food. Boffa was proud of his knowledge of local markets:
I found a butcher beneath the terrace market near the Coop. There is a man there, his name is Adriano, he’s 74 years old and he has worked there for about 50 years. He works there with his son and, if I am able to, that is the only place I get meat from. That’s where I got our Thanksgiving Turkey, a 27lb Turkey. I mean, you go down under the city, on a balcony that overlooks the valley and it’s just you and these guys who share the same passion for life, for food, and for people that you do. Suddenly, when you shake this man’s hand, age disappears.
However, when asked, Matt and Jared both insisted that there was much more to study abroad than meets the eye and denied having conquered Perugia, even after three months of living within its millennia old Etruscan walls. Instead, they both insisted that Perugia had conquered them. Jared described feeling as though he had restarted his life, as a person and as a writer; while Matt expressed overcoming himself and learning to interpret his experience saying, “when you arrive in a place like this and you can go in any direction, freedom is knowing what your boundaries are and simultaneously seizing an opportunity while you are young enough to enjoy it and it is not just a nostalgic, vicarious vacation.”
In the end, Matt and Jared insist that Study Abroad is much more than simply relocating your place of study, it is an opportunity to better understand the world around you, to experience personal growth, and to open your eyes to a new perspective. As the holidays begin in Perugia, and the Umbra semester comes to an end, both Misericordia students have become reflective of their experience. As a final statement, Jared shared, “I don’t think we can point out one story about how we conquered Italy, how we conquered Perugia. I think it’s so much cooler than that because we didn’t conquer anything, we just made lives here. We have established a home and it feels like we will always have something to come back to.”
About the Umbra Institute:
The Umbra Institute is an American study abroad program located in the central Italian city of Perugia. Perugia is the ideal setting to study abroad in Italy, with fine arts, business, and liberal arts courses. It also offers a wide range of service-learning offerings including academic internships and community-based courses. For more information about the Umbra Institute, see the website above.