Student Reflections: Karina Collins

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2016 Group in Assisi

Studying abroad in Italy the summer following my freshman year was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in college. I have always loved to travel and desired to study abroad the first opportunity I could manage. That was when I stumbled upon the Italian Studies Program with Judy. At that time, I was unaware of how impactful this program would be. Given that the trip was going to be my first time traveling without my family, I was a little apprehensive, but the doubt went away shortly after convening with the rest of the group at the airport. From then on out it was a whirlwind experience of museums, monuments, food, and friendships.

The heart of this program is Professor Judy Raggi Moore. Passionate and knowledgeable, she led us across her home country as though we were locals rather than tourists. She has been perfecting this trip for years, and you can tell. Our bus driver Carlos has been with the program from its start and is always a friendly face, providing great dinner recommendations and laughs along the way. The places we stay are quaint local hotels with character, great locations, and delicious breakfasts. The towns, many of which I had never heard of, range from large cities such as Rome and Venice to quaint towns like San Gimignano and Cefalu. You learn the customs of each region, the history, and the qualities that make each city we visit so special and important to the country as a whole. Judy has curated a trip of a lifetime.

I still look back at all of the pictures with fondness, reminiscing on each one. A picture from the beach at Positano reminds me of when the whole group decided to make a music video on the beach to Rather Be. A picture from Segesta brings back the memories of gathering under a tree to recite plays from ancient Italian writers. And just about every picture reminds me of our group catchphrase, “Where’s Judy?”, inspired by the fact that she walked significantly faster than everyone else. If you weren’t paying attention you would look up and wonder where she was before seeing her twenty feet in front of you, paving the way through the winding stone streets.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to return to Italy as the TA for the 2019 trip. This is an experience of a lifetime, one my parents are trying to get in on, wondering if Judy would mind if they sat in the back of the group so that they can experience the magic I have been raving about for the past two years. I look forward to another amazing trip with another incredible group and the memories that I will carry back with me.

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Karina (Left) and Sibel Ilksoy (Right)

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