Going abroad can be scary especially If you have never been outside of the country, but it was the best time I have ever had, although it was short. My name is Erick Lojano-Quispe, currently I am a rising Junior with a Major in Civil Engineering and a Minor in Italian. I went abroad for the spring semester during the 2019-2020 academic year. Syracuse makes it really easy to apply for visa, you just fill out some forms and they care of it and help you through the process.

One challenge you are going to come across is packing, what am I supposed to pack, how much am I supposed to pack? Well, you pack your essentials, medication, clothing, travel toiletry (you will be able to buy some there). How much clothing depends on how much laundry you want to do, and also keep in mind if you want to pay extra for luggage. I did not pay extra and I fit a week and a half’s worth of clothes and I still was under the weight capacity. I did laundry every week because the host families air dry clothes, so it takes a day or two to dry.

Speaking of host families, most of you applying will probably stay with a host family, I had the pleasure of staying with two different families due to the first host having a family situation. My experience with the host were each different, but each still provided a rich Italian lifestyle.

I know for many, a challenge is financially being able to afford studying abroad. I thought the same, but Syracuse provides a variety of scholarships and financial aid to alleviate the financial impact. A scholarship that helped me was the Gilman Scholarship. The Gilman Scholarship is an undergraduate program for U.S. citizens of limited financial means to enable them to study abroad. What is so great about the Gilman Scholarship is that the scholarship money goes directly to you, so you can use to pay off some financial expenses or use it as spending money to travel more, to purchase local items and food abroad.

As many of you know, or can assume, the academic spring semester of 2019-2020, was when the Covid-19 situation started picking up pace, it was also at this time where it became serious situation in Europe, specifically in Italy. Syracuse responded accordingly and suspended the program and advised all the students to book a flight for home, of course many students had many questions specifically, financial questions. Syracuse reimbursed the flight leaving Florence. Originally the students were provided two options, to either return to main campus after the spring break or switch to online classes. Of course, main campus Syracuse switched online classes as well, so most if not all of the abroad students were still in our abroad classes. One issue you might think about abroad classes going online would be the time zone difference, however, many professors accommodated the students by uploading power points, uploading videos, and provide the whole day for exams and quizzes since they realized that many students lived in different time zones.

I enjoyed exploring Italy, and I have so much left to see. I definitely will visit again one day.

Erick Lojano-Quispe

Syracuse Florence Center