My Summer Study Abroad Experience

Furman offers tons of amazing faculty-led study abroad opportunities and supports several affiliate programs that students may want to join. Generally, a study abroad experience will last a semester, but you can also participate in MayX programs that only last for a month.

This past summer, I spent the month of June doing an affiliate study abroad program with the Accademia dell’Arte. It was structured similarly to a regular class schedule, though it was a short program and had zero Furman faculty involved.

In fact, I was the only person from Furman there.

I knew when I came to Furman that I wanted to study abroad at some point. Maybe several points. I have some serious wanderlust and wanted to get out there and see things. So when one of my acting professors, Maegan Azar, sent out a mass email about a physical theatre program in Arezzo, Italy, I was intrigued. After a lot of deliberation, my mom agreed to financially assist me if I wanted to go. So I applied for ADA’s program and got accepted!

Here I am with a traditional Commedia dell’Arte mask during class!

I was able to receive some financial aid from the theatre department, but most of the costs were paid out-of-pocket.

I spent a month in Arezzo, living in an old Italian villa. My program was really small; there were 7 college students (including myself) and 3 adults taking classes. During the day, I took 3 classes: either Elemental Body Alignment or Contact Improv (we alternated between the two every day), then Commedia dell’Arte, then Mask Making. Each of my classes lasted about 3 hours. I was in class from 8:30 to 5:30 every day, learning about traditional Italian forms of theatre, ways to build character using body language, and how to build a traditional leather mask. (I even got to take my leather mask home with me!) Italy is known for its massive contributions to theatre and art during the Renaissance, and I was able to learn about these types of comedy from their country of origin in a hands-on way. AND I got credit for it that transferred back to Furman! If that’s not living the dream, what is?

Don’t try this at home–I almost fell off the roof and into a grove of olive trees!

The evenings were free for us to walk to the local grocery store or into town. Sometimes, we would have to watch movies for class, but mostly we had our evenings to do as we pleased. Often, we’d go out and sit on the roof of the theatre (called the teatrino) and watch the sun set over Arezzo. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen–you better believe I journaled like CRAZY while I was there!

It was an amazing experience. The Accademia dell’Arte is an incredible school, and I learned so much from the instructors and other students I was with. While I’d still love to be a part of a semester-long study away program through Furman, getting the chance to do a short-term affiliate program was one I would recommend to anyone. It’s a great way to determine how you feel about spending several months abroad, and it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone by sending me somewhere where I didn’t know anyone else to learn something I only had a vague knowledge of prior to my arrival.

Both the professors at ADA and at Furman were incredibly helpful during the whole process, offering me advice and support. If you’re unsure of whether or not studying abroad is for you, I highly recommend reaching out to a professor to see what programs are out there. I believe there’s a program out there for every type of student, and you and a professor can find one that matches your wants and needs. Whether it’s a semester-long program guided by a Furman faculty member, or a month-long program with another school, or something else completely, there’s something out there for you.

Remember to follow my adventures, #CamOnCampus, and have a great week!

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