My name is Meghan O’Brien, and I am completing a Contract Major in Italian. I spent an entire academic year in the majestic Renaissance city of Urbino, Italy—a prospect that was integral in strengthening my Italian proficiency, and invaluable in terms of furthering my independence and confidence. At the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, all instruction is in Italian, and while most professors graciously accommodated international students, we were responsible for the same content matter as our Italian peers. I lived in a sprawling dorm complex among predominantly Italian students who became a family to me, and they eagerly shared their cultures (I learned that Italian culture dramatically differs regionally!) and their lives with me. Lingua Ideale helped to support international students, but we were given an overwhelming amount of independence which fostered incredible social and academic growth.
Urbino is remotely situated among the verdant mountains of the Marches in central Italy. Prepare yourself for brutal hilly streets and miles of walking, but also for the most extraordinary sunsets of a lifetime and the opportunity to live within the walls of a once thriving ducal palace. The staggered nature of the Italian academic year left me the time and the fortune to visit dozens of European countries over the span of ten months, but many of the most important lessons I learned and greatest friendships I built transpired at the kitchen table of the block where I lived. The education was tremendous and the travel was unforgettable, but the people made a world of a difference. My Italian (and one Turkish) roommates and plethora of international friends helped me authentically enhance my abilities in Italian, deepened my passion, supported me, and showed me an international perspective I never anticipated. I experienced infinite challenges, cultural miscommunications, and moments of homesickness, but the trials are what rendered the experience unique and helped me to grow.