This past summer, I was standing in line at The Blank Slate (my favorite Ann Arbor ice cream shop) when I heard a conversation that ended up leading me on a trip to Italy only a few months later.
A few recently-graduated college students were talking about a study abroad trip they had taken. It made me think about the fact that in a few short months my time as a college student at Concordia University Ann Arbor would be over, and with it my opportunity to study abroad.
After a fall semester of researching trips, registering, applying for scholarships, and lots of planning and packing, I found myself boarding our flight from Chicago to Rome, Italy on January 8, 2020.
I wanted to share some details from my trip to give a taste of what a global education class is like and encourage all students to know that studying abroad, if for a few weeks or a whole semester, is a possibility for everyone.
After meeting up with the group of students from Concordia University Wisconsin, and a connecting flight from London, we arrived in Rome to sunny mild weather, and off we went on a tour of the city.
We looped around the city, drove past the Coliseum, and ancient ruins of the city wall, then headed out on foot to see some other spots like Capitoline Hill and the Pantheon.
After a full day we headed back to the hotel to unpack and get some rest before heading out for dinner. We got our first pizza from a little shop right near the Trevi fountain and spent the rest of the evening exploring the area around our hotel.
The second day in Rome was spent almost entirely on the Vatican Museums and Saint Peters Basilica all of which was breathtaking, some of the most beautiful paintings, sculpture and architecture I have ever seen. In the evening we got gelato and had pasta at a local restaurant.
We arrived to Villa Pieve in Corciano on our third day after a short bus ride. We settled in then headed to lunch.
The rest of the day was spent on a walk up to Corciano and exploring the small town. To end the night we watched the sun set over the mountains.
The next morning part of the group attended Mass at the local church then got a tour of a local artist’s printmaking studio.
Classes began the next day with two hours of Italian language class followed by lunch then two hours of painting and drawing class. A few days passed with classes in the morning and afternoon and exploring and drawing and painting filling the time between meals.
In the middle of our stay at Corciano we took a day trip to the nearby city of Perugia, it is an ancient Etruscan city and the largest in the area.
After a tour of the city center, the Perugia Cathedral, and famous Fontana Maggiore, we headed into the National Gallery of Umbria and saw many famous works housed there.
For lunch we headed to a Pizzeria which our guide suggested, then spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city. A unique highlight of the evening was finding 22 cent liters of water at the grocery store! We took their famous miniMetro to our bus and headed back to Corciano.
When our time in Corciano came to an end, we took the bus 2 hours to Siena.
It was a rainy morning, we started by exploring Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico. Then we wandered through the city until we came to the famous Piazza del Campo, where we saw the famous tower and home of the horse-races each year.
We finished the tour at the Duomo of Siena, the marble work in the floor and frescoes on the walls were some of the most intricate we saw on the trip.
Walking back to the bus I reflected on all that we had seen and looked forward to our last city of the trip.
Our arrival in Florence was exciting, for me it was one of the cities I was most looking forward to visit. I couldn’t get to the Florence Cathedral fast enough!
Once we had gotten our stuff into our rooms we headed out to explore a bit in the evening. One of the students on the trip spent last summer there and she showed us some of her favorite places; like the amazing panini shop we got dinner from.
The next morning we were up early to visit the Academia, where Michelangelo’s David sculpture is kept; then onto the Uffizi Gallery whose collection has many other famous works by a myriad of artists. Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Da Vinci’s unfinished Adoration of the Magi were some of my favorites.
The afternoon we had to ourselves, I spent it eating truffle pasta and perusing the Mercato Centrale, a sort of enclosed farmers market and eatery.
Later on in the day we headed up to the San Miniato Basilica, which is set at one of the highest points in the city. We took in the incredible view of Florence below us and then visited the church.
On our final day in Italy we were free to what we wanted so me and a few of my friends explored a few other churches, visited the famous San Lorenzo leather market, then headed to dinner with the whole group.
The trip was one of the best I’ve ever taken, from making new friends, to learning all about some of the most amazing artwork, it’s a trip I will truly never forget.
If you are interested in going on a life-changing study abroad trip click here to learn more about all of the trips each year or contact Margaret Leimkuehler, Study Abroad Program Coordinator.
— Esther Schulze is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Art. She will graduate in 2020.
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