Center for International Programs - Study Abroad

Student Profile: Emily Skill- Rome

Emily Skill Rome


Major: Italian and Communications
Minor: Linguistics

Abroad Program: 2013 SJU Summer Program in Rome
Course: Italian 340: Culture and Civilization

Highlight: Walking around Assisi. Assisi is an absolutely beautiful and breathtaking town.
Best Excursion: The trip to Venice the a couple friends and I planned for the last weekend.

Favorite Dish: Homemade Pesto Pasta.
Least Favorite Dish: Four Cheese Pizza with gorgonzola cheese
Next Destination: Scotland


1. Describe your most memorable experience while abroad.

My most memorable experience was when we went on a private boat tour around the entire island of Capri.  At one part of the boat tour we were able to jump off the boat into the middle of the Mediterranean sea.  The water was crystal clear and very blue and was the perfect temperature.

2. What did you learn to love about the culture(s)?   

I love the Italians make everything enjoyable. Every time we went out to eat the restaurant atmosphere was very laid back and relaxing. I never felt the stress and pressure of being in a restaurant that I feel when I’m in the U.S.

3. What was a typical day like for you while abroad?

A typical day was waking up around 8, going down stairs to the café and ordering a cappuccino and a pastry in Italian.  Then meeting up with the group down the street to go explore a museum or famous landmark.  After exploring everyone would break off into certain groups to go out to lunch.  After lunch I found myself exploring churches and other famous places in Rome. I usually got back to the apartment around 5 and relaxed for an hour until my Italian class at 6.  After class the Italian students and I would get dinner together.  After dinner I worked on my blog, Italian reading, uploaded pictures, and caught up with family and friends from home.

4. How did the location enhance your academic experience?   

Actually being in Italy completely enhanced my academic experience.  Everyday I would have to speak Italian to the locals.  Whether I was ordering food or looking for a certain place I had to speak Italian.  Practicing Italian everyday with locals and my peers really improved my pronunciation, vocabulary, sentence and verb structure, and overall my conversation skills.

5. What was one challenge you faced? How did you deal with this challenge?   

One challenge I had was “mind-blanking” or “forgetting” Italian when I tried to speak to locals.  This happened mostly at the beginning of the trip.  The longer I was in Italy the more comfortable I was with speaking Italian.  To become more comfortable all I really needed to do was to just practice speaking Italian more.

6. Describe your living situation.   

I lived in an apartment with 5 other girls.  There were two girls to a room.  We had 2 full baths, a complete kitchen, sitting room, and a washer and drying racks.  The apartment was located in a building with local Italians who lived in this apartment as their permanent home. We were completely exposed to the Italian life-style.  We also had balconies off of the kitchen and the bedroom.  The balconies were nice to relax on and watch the streets of Rome.  Also, since there is no air conditioning in the apartment, the balconies are very nice to sit on at night when the sun is down; there is usually a nice breeze as well.

7.How has this experience changed you?

This experience has cultured me. I understand the Italian lifestyle so much more than I ever could from a textbook. I have so much more respect for other cultures now after this trip.  This experience has made me fall even more in love with Italy.  I love their culture, food, and people.

8. How do you see this experience affecting your future?

I can see this experience affecting my future by making me even more determined to become fluent in Italian.  That way, if I ever do return to Italy I can show my respect to them by speaking their native language.  All the Italians I met in Italy were very kind to me as well as patient and helpful when I spoke Italian to them.  I can also see this experience making me more patient and kind to foreigners that come to the U.S, because now I know how it feels to be on the other side.

9. Who will you remember most from your study abroad experience and why?

I will remember the gentleman who worked in the café below my apartment the most.  I saw him every morning and he recognized me and knew my order even before I said it.  He also helped me improve my Italian pronunciation and he was always very kind and patient.

10. Describe your best travel experience.

My best travel experience was when I planned a 3 day trip to Venice with a couple friends.  We took the fast train and to Venice and got there in less than 4 hours.  We stayed in a nice hotel right next to the Grand Canal.  We had a great few days exploring so much of Venice and relaxing on a gondola ride! 

11. What was one fear you had before going? Would you have this same fear if you were going to study abroad again? Why or why not?

My biggest fear was getting pick-pocketed and loosing my credit card, phone, or all my money in a foreign place.  This is always going to be a fear, but it will never be as strong as it was the first time.  I was not pick-pocketed at all during the study tour.  I was very aware of my surroundings at all times and kept a very good eye on my bag.

12. What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?

My one piece of advice would be wake up early with a positive attitude and just explore and see as much as you can!

13. How did you fund your study abroad experience?

I worked 3 jobs in high school with the intention of going to Italy after my senior year with a couple friends.  Unfortunately this trip fell through, however, I did have a lot of money saved up.  When I heard about this study tour I knew that this is what I worked so hard for.  So I used a lot of my money that I worked for in high school. I also applied for scholarships through the Italian program and received 2 very nice scholarships that helped me fund majority of the trip.  Family members also gave me money for my birthday for the Rome trip.

14. Submit a piece of your writing that you feel captures an important aspect of your study abroad experience (part of an essay, journal, blog, etc.).

My blogs were all in Italian, but this is a translation of one of them:

“In Trasevere, Italy, there was a concert with authentic and traditional Italian music! It  only cost 10 euro to go this festival. The music was incredible and consisted of many different styles of Italian music. At this concert, there were many instruments and combinations of sounds that are not common in the United States. While this music is not what I'm used to, I liked it a lot! Toward the end of the concert, young girls and old women danced to the music! The dancing was very different than concerts in the United States but it was a good experience of Italian culture and it was also very interesting to watch. Throughout the concert, I tried to understand what the men and women were singing about, but it was very difficult.  Later, I realized that the singers were actually singing in a different dialect than what I was studying. Although I did not understand everything, the music was great!”


15. How was the experience of studying the language in the classroom (in high school or in college) prior to studying abroad different from the experience of studying the language in and outside of the classroom once you were abroad?

The experience of studying Italian outside the classroom is incredibly more effective.  Because I was studying Italian in Italy, I was able to practice my Italian 24/7 whether I wanted to or not (but of course I wanted too!) Whereas, when I study Italian at school, I’m only practicing it when I’m in class or working on homework.  Being able to use what I’m learning in class and apply it to my daily life is so helpful in improving my Italian. Everyday I would have to order and ask questions in Italian in order to get through the day.  Back at home, I don’t have to use my Italian to get through the day. I only need to speak it 3 times a week for 50 min.  However, after this experience I am going to practice my Italian everyday.  A couple students from the Italian class and I have already formed a little Italian meeting group so that we can practice everyday.

16. How have you used the language since you returned from your study abroad experience? How do you plan to use it in the future?

 When I was Italy I bough 3 books and a movie in Italian.  Two of the books I bought were Disney children’s books.  I’m currently reading 101 Dalmatians in Italian. I chose these books because since they are written for children they are more at my level in Italian.  However, they are still very challenging and I am expanding my vocabulary as I read these books.  I also downloaded online books so I can practice my pronunciation as well.  I hope to use Italian everyday when In the future.  I hope to become fluent and have a job where I can do interpreting work of some sort.  I also hope to have children in the future and to raise them bilingually.  

Emily Skill Rome photo

Photo taken by Emiily