By Umbra Rep Alexis Kulish, Arcadia University
It is pretty typical for us study abroad students to want to catch as many flights as we can to explore the maximum amount of bucket list destinations during our time abroad. However, after being a second time study abroad student, if I could give one piece of advice to someone preparing to spend any amount of time in a new place, it would easily be, “don’t forget to explore the country you are in”. After all, you chose your destination for a reason, right?
I myself was so eager to start planning day and weekend trips as soon as I arrived in Perugia, Italy, but to my surprise I quickly noticed that my weekends were filling up fast, yet I had not even done any research myself. That was all thanks to the Umbra Institute and what seems like countless optional activities and excursions right at my fingertips, with no planning involved. Simply by opening the Umbra Institute App and scrolling up and down over and over through the activities page, scribbling down everything I was interested in doing throughout the semester. Within minutes my tentative schedule of the semester was overflowing with activities
February 20th- Nooks and Crannies Tour of Perugia
February 22nd- Pizza Night 1 (and 2 more throughout the semester)
March 6th- Day Trip to Frasassi Caves
March 13th- Rome Excursion
March 14th- Chocolate Making Class
March 28th- Welcome Back Aperitivo
April 2nd- Hiking in Assisi and Spello
April 9th- Rafting on the Corno River
These are just SOME of the incredible offerings the Institute does as an opportunity for Umbra students to make lifelong friends and everlasting memories, but also immerse us in a culture that we are here to accept, appreciate, and be a part of. Do keep in mind that these excursions change from semester to semester depending on season and new offerings throughout the years, but regardless of when you arrive in Perugia there will always be endless opportunities to make the most of your time in Italy.
Now, I haven’t even gotten to the classes themselves, but I don’t want to spoil too much. But, I will let you know that many of our courses have an integrated portion of field trips to places all around Italy that complement the course lessons, and personally those field trips have given me some of my absolute favorite days of my time abroad, and it is not even over yet! I have learned, as I know many of our students will agree, that the phrase “Meet at the Fountain” has grown to be something I look forward to seeing, and anyone coming to Umbra will very quickly become familiar with hearing that, too.
I also want to mention that the Umbra Institute is certainly not the only way to sightsee and explore during your time abroad. Taking a long walk through town on the weekend or booking a trip to a place like Assisi, Gubbio, or Firenze with some friends can be just as fun and memorable, and you are encouraged to take the plunge into getting to know where you are living! It is much easier to feel at home when you spend time exploring, finding your favorite study spot, or going for dinner at the best pasta restaurant in town once a week. And, with managing your time well, there is also plenty of opportunity to check off those bigger bucket list items… but just be sure to leave some time for those unexpected memories you will make in the comfort of your new home- Italy.