CAS '20 Peter Maisano

SA: IES Abroad, Rome

Program Abroad:

  • Semester Abroad (SA): IES Abroad: Rome - Language & Area Studies, Italy

Ask me about...

  • Studying abroad with a sibling

  • Getting out of your comfort zone

  • Connecting with family from the area

  • Learning about Italian customs and traditions

My Experience Abroad:

While abroad this semester, I had the amazing opportunity to be in Rome at the same time as my sister, who was also studying in Rome for the semester through a different program. As triplets, we have spent a lot of time together in and outside of school. Although it was amazing to experience so many new things with her, it was also important for me to find a balance between comfort and exploring new places and making new friends, which was one of the reasons why I chose to study abroad. Although this situation is very unique, the ability to find new ways of getting out of one's comfort zone is not. I think that was probably the hardest part of studying abroad since the comfort of friends and community and Penn can be radically changed while abroad. However, in doing so, I was not only able to open myself up to make new friends, but also have experiences I will never forget.

Besides this, another important reason why I chose to study abroad specifically in Italy was that of my large Italian-American family. As a second generation American, I have grown up with strong ties to Italy and still have family in Sicily. For me this was an extremely unique situation because I was able to visit and see my family throughout the semester, which has not only strengthened my relationship with them but has also led me to experience new and exciting Italian customs and traditions that I wouldn't;t have known about otherwise. One fun example is a board game called Tombola, a type of Italian bingo.

As a sociology major, I am extremely interested in the way individuals come to form a society and therefore produce a culture. One invaluable experience this past semester was taking a course on the current European migration crisis and how it applies directly to Italy and its people. Throughout the course, we met with refugees and asylum-seekers from around the globe who felt Italy was the most secure place for their families and themselves. It was because of these experiences that I have been able to understand more concretely how individuals who have become woven into a society can change the very foundation of it. Although I had learned about this in past courses at Penn, the real world application I have experienced abroad has forever changed my point of view as both a global citizen and a student. 

Other Highlights:

  • Being able to travel around Europe, even just for short weekends 

  • Living in a homestay and cooking authentic Italian meals

  • Spending my semester with both American and Italian students

  • Walking past the Vatican every day in order to get to school 

  • Meeting and learning about refugees from around the world who are staying in Rome 

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