USF World News

Beyond the Classroom
November 17, 2010

Study abroad is fast becoming a realistic, affordable, and almost mandatory option for students at USF. With an increase in students studying abroad in 2009-10 the office hopes to continue this trend.

Study abroad enriches the student experience giving them the opportunity to pursue more than a traditional academic program. Students are making the most of such opportunities. Danielle Licari, an undergraduate student at USF majoring in Biology with a minor in Italian is one such student.

Beginning her program in Italy this fall, Danielle arrived in Firenze, Italy where she will spend two semesters studying Italian language and culture. When asked why she chose this particular program, Danielle admits that though her family is of Italian origin, her knowledge of Italian culture is limited and studying abroad was her solution to learning more about a culture she is connected to.  Danielle also wanted to see firsthand what Italian culture was like when compared to the American culture that she knows so well.

But, what makes Danielle’s experience different from a traditional study abroad experience is her engagement with the Fiorentine community. Having been in Italy for only two months now, Danielle is involved in three community service programs apart from the courses she takes at the Florence University of the Arts. The range of her community engagement allows her to experience Italy from different points of view.

One of the programs she works with is Angel of Beauty, where a group of people adopt one part of the city and help clean and maintain it, preserving the city’s natural charm. When she isn’t helping clean up a city park or garden, she commits her time twice every week to Madre Lingua! where she assists in leading the conversational portion of an English course for unemployed or low income Italians living in the area.

Also a member of the Italian Family Club, she says being able to find a welcoming Italian family to get an inside view of a regular Italian household is one of the things she is most grateful for. “For me, this has been the most beneficial experience. I’ve tried so many foods, have seen so many different things and have experienced many differences from that of a typical American family.”

Danielle says her study abroad experience is helping her gain the ability to see things from a different perspective. “I’m experiencing so many new things that it’s hard to say what I’ve gained exactly.” As for her future, she’s playing things by the moment. Although studying abroad has set her back a year, she says she’s really not worried about graduating. “As of right now, I am planning on experiencing all I can in the Fiorentine culture. Until I come back to the rat race in May, I want to be able to say I lived and experienced all of Firenze.”

On a final note, Danielle adds her goal is to leave Italy with a complete understanding of the people, language and culture. “To be able to live here and study here was once a dream of mine. And to think, now I am living here!”