Studying in Italy made possible by study abroad program

Imagine sitting outside of an Italian pastry shop while doing your English assignment surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Italy. This can become a reality for community college students wanting to study abroad.

The American Institute for Foreign Studies is a study abroad program where students in the Northern California region get a chance to take classes for a whole semester in another country. This program gives students an opportunity to explore schooling in a different way while learning about different cultures. Students will have a chance to study in Florence, Italy in spring 2016.

“Our program is unique because the classes they take there are the same they would take if they were here at CRC,” said Lizzy Lynch Assistant to the Director of Study Abroad. “It’s just now the classroom is being picked up and moved.”

The 13-week program has minimum requirements for students who wish to take part. Students must be at least 18 years old, completed a minimum of 12 units at a Los Rios Community College and have a current 2.25 GPA, according to the AIFS brochure.

The price of the trip is $7,845 which includes: housing, the orientation program and weekly programs of cultural activities such as cooking lessons and tours of the city. There is another $2,131 that is not included in the AIFS program fee, which includes airfare, meal vouchers and a $250 refundable damage deposit. However, students wanting to study abroad can apply for financial aid to help with these costs.

“Always plan ahead,” Lynch said. “There are a lot of ways you can pay for this trip. Financial aid is available, as well as grants and loans. Also, if you receive the B.O.G Waiver, that still covers classes abroad.”

A few Los Rios professors will be following the students to Florence to teach there in the spring.

“I know first hand the good experience you get when studying abroad,” said English Professor Kerstin Feindert who studied abroad in Germany, Prague and Scotland as a student.

Feindert will be teaching English, film and short stories while in Florence.

“Going with our program will help assure that your classes are transferable to a UC or CSU,” Feindert said.

Lynch said there is a group of Los Rios students studying in Barcelona for the fall semester.

“The program itself is wonderful,” said student Megan Eley, who is part of the group in Barcelona. With being in another country, being responsible and balancing your time is important.

“We all have to be responsible adults and buy groceries, clean our apartments, schedule ourselves so we can have fun while also succeeding in our courses,” she said.

Eley said the program advisers are knowledgeable, making the experience fun and interesting.

“I would highly recommend this study abroad to anyone and everyone,” Eley said. “This trip brought me wonderful friends, the college experience and a change of pace. I absolutely love this place and the opportunities ahead of me.”