Students experience 'Italy Abroad'
May 06, 2009

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Ten students recently returned from Bryan’s Italy Abroad semester, bringing with them a new understanding of a missions lifestyle as well as 19 academic credits.Students are pictured with Dr. Mel Wilhoit during a fine arts trip in Italy.


Danielle Rebman, associate for spiritual formation in the Office of Student Life who coordinates the program, said Italy Abroad is designed to offer students close contact with church-planting missionaries as well as a curriculum that takes advantage of the country’s history and culture.


Because of its modular format, students generally complete one course a week, leaving weekends free for travel or exploring the area around Saints Bible Institute in San Lorenzo, home base for the program.


Kaity Kopeski, a sophomore from Dayton, Tenn., said Italy Abroad gave her the chance to fulfill a dream of studying in another country. Italy’s history and art made the program particularly attractive. “During travel week, which is part of the Fine Arts class, we traveled to Rome and Florence and Venice. My favorite places are the quaint towns close to the school. I just take a train and spend the day enjoying the outdoor cafes and flowers."


Alaina Woodall, a sophomore from Mascot, Tenn., used one of her free weekends to travel to Ireland to get a taste of her Irish heritage. She also appreciated “traveling through Austria, Germany, and Switzerland on Spring Break. The scenery we saw on the train, and the historically significant things that we saw like the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, The Alps, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra” made a lasting impression.


The program includes several planned trips, and students visited Verona, Udine, Paris, Trieste, Florence, Venice, Bologna, Slovenia and Milan.


“Sometimes it's easy to forget that I'm not in the States because we spend all day in classes around other American students, but there are little reminders that I'm in a foreign country,” Kaity said. “We're in the middle of the country and we have to walk 40 minutes to do laundry or go to the grocery stores. The language is a constant barrier, but it makes for some good mistranslation stories.”


For Alaina, “The biggest difference (between school in Italy and at Bryan) is that the environment is much more relaxed and slow than it is at Bryan. Our weekends are pretty much free because we are changing classes at that time. Also, you get to know the people much better because you see each other all the time. You are able to meet new people from different places that you would not have been able to meet, you get to experience life in a completely different culture, and you get to eat home-made Italian food for every meal.”


Ms. Rebman said the program has grown in positive ways since she was part of the first class in 2006, and it has kept its life-changing impact. “This was one of the most formative experiences for me while I was a student at Bryan,” she said. “We want students to have more than simply an academic experience; we want them to come away with a new understanding of Christ's influence on every culture.”


The Italy Abroad Semester runs from late January to late April. Prospective students should talk with Ms. Rebman before July 7, to apply and qualify for a tuition discount. For more visit the Italy Abroad web site.