More Misericordia students have been given the opportunity to study abroad as a result of last year's partnership agreement with the Umbra Institute, a study abroad program in Perugia, Italy.
Jared Pinter of Bushkill, Pennsylvania, and Matt Boffa of Sparta, New Jersey, are among the first to take advantage of the new opportunity, and both agree the program was well worth it. Not only is it affordable, it allows students to transfer credits taken at the Umbra Institute directly into their Misericordia degree program while alsotaking them to Perugia, a hilltop town nestled in the green heart of Italy.
Boffa waxed poetically about the experience: "You know a place has taken you when you walk down a street and locals say hi to you. They say 'hi' in Italian! You know a city has taken you when you walk into a shop and not only are you on a first-name basis, but you are not even speaking your own language.''
When students study abroad, it is common to imagine conquering a new part of the world – making it your own, learning the language, traveling until you know every landmark, every food. Boffa was proud of his knowledge of local markets:
"I found a butcher beneath the terrace market near the Coop,'' he said. "There is a man there, his name is Adriano, he's 74 years old and he has worked there for about 50 years. He works there with his son and, if I am able to, that is the only place I get meat from. That's where I got our Thanksgiving Turkey, a 27-pound turkey.
"I mean, you go down under the city, on a balcony that overlooks the valley and it's just you and these guys who share the same passion for life, for food, and for people that you do. Suddenly, when you shake this man's hand, age disappears,'' Boffa added.
Pinter and Boffa both insisted, though, that there was much more to study abroad than meets the eye and denied having conquered Perugia – even after three months of living within its millennia-old Etruscan walls. Instead, they believe Perugia had conquered them. Pinter described feeling as though he had restarted his life, as a person and as a writer, while Boffa expressed overcoming himself and learning to interpret his experience.
"When you arrive in a place like this and you can go in any direction, freedom is knowing what your boundaries are and simultaneously seizing an opportunity while you are young enough to enjoy it,'' Boffa said, "and it is not just a nostalgic, vicarious vacation."
In the end, Pinter and Boffa insisted that Study Abroad is much more than simply relocating your place of study. It is an opportunity to better understand the world around you, to experience personal growth, and to open your eyes to a new perspective.
As the holidays begin in Perugia, and the Umbra semester comes to an end, both Misericordia University students have become reflective of their experience. As a final statement, Pinter shared, "I don't think we can point out one story about how we conquered Italy, how we conquered Perugia. I think it's so much cooler than that because we didn't conquer anything, we just made lives here. We have established a home and it feels like we will always have something to come back to."
The Umbra Institute is an American study abroad program located in the central Italian city of Perugia. Perugia is the ideal setting to study abroad in Italy, with fine arts, business, and liberal arts courses. It also offers a wide range of service-learning offerings including academic internships and community-based courses. For more information about the Umbra Institute, please log on to www.umbra.org.
For more information about the study away/abroad programs available at Misericordia University, please call (570) 674-6400 or log on to www.misericordia.edu/studyabroad. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County's first four-year college and offers 32 academic programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels in full- and part-time formats. Misericordia University ranks in the top tier of the Best Regional Universities – North category of U.S. News and World Report's 2016 edition of Best Colleges, and was designated a 2016 Best Northeastern College by the Princeton Review.
Misericordia University student Matt Boffa of Sparta, N.J., discovers ancient architectural mysteries through a course in archeological discovery at the Umbra Institute, a study abroad program in Perugia, Italy.
Misericordia University student Jared Pinter of Bushkill, Pa., fills his journal with thoughts of life and memory during a field trip for his creative writing through literary models course at the Umbra Institute, a study abroad program in Perugia, Italy.