More so than any other department I encountered in my four years at Bucknell, the Italian Department had some of the warmest professors I ever had. They were genuinely interested in helping you learn the language, and their love of Italian and Italy is infectious. There is a wide variety of classes you can take, from language to history to literature to film classes, both in Italian and in English, and I was lucky enough to be able to take almost all of them.
I took part in Eastern College Consortium (ECCo) in Bologna program. This was an Italian-intensive program, with every class and tour in Italian. The program had about 20 students from the U.S., and we lived in apartments in two dorm buildings in Bologna with other students of the University of Bologna. I loved it. By living with actual Italian students, we were able to learn more about Italy and Bologna, and integrate ourselves more in the culture. The food was amazing, absolutely amazing, everywhere we went in Bologna, and it is part of what Bologna is most famous for. Bologna has the fortune of having one of the major train stations in Italy as well as an airport, making traveling extremely easy, especially in Italy. There were very few times we could not get a direct train to where we needed to go, and we took advantage of that, filling our weekends up with short trips to various cities all over Italy. In addition, traveling outside of Italy was easy with the Bologna airport, as the student traveler's favorite airline, RyanAir, came to the Bologna airport.
ECCo did a wonderful job of introducing us to Bologna--we were given multiple tours around Bologna, and the Italian interns they had working would regularly take us out to experience apertivo, which is a better version of American happy hour, clubs, carnivale, and other festivals. We were given cooking lessons (since our meal plan was money to cook for ourselves in our apartments), and taken on excursions to other cities: Ravenna, Ferrara, Firenze, Napoli and Pompei. Our program started in the beginning of January and lasted until the very end of May. The first three and a half weeks were spent in intensive Italian courses, to make sure our Italian was ready for actual college classes. In this time, the program students became very close, and the ECCo office served as a home base for the students, with those working there becoming people we could easily go to talk to for any question or concern we had.
I absolutely loved studying abroad. It was one of the best experiences of my life. To be able to live in a country, live with members of that country, go to school with them, really helps you understand and experience that country and its culture. Bologna was the perfect fit for me, and I'm hoping to go back soon.