My Top 5 Reasons to Live with an Italian Host Family

The US is more reserved, in general, with relationships, and when a person stays with a host family in the United States, they either are taken by the host family to see the tourist sites in the city or just left alone. The host families I have stayed with in the US have just let me do my own thing, and from my personal experience, they didn’t really seem interested in getting to know me. In Italy, I have found this to be very different. Here are some of the reasons why the Italian host family experience has been rewarding for me:


My Italian family was welcoming with open arms; they immediately did the cheek-kiss greeting, which I do not completely understand to this day. They make homemade meals for me every day, and help me learn Italian, slowly but surely.


This behavior of treating me as one of their own doesn’t just go for my immediate host family either. I’ve gone to a few of the cousins’ houses for meals, and they feed me traditional Italian meals and strike up conversation with me as much as possible. We joke and they tell me how proud they are of me taking seconds on meals (something I have never heard in the US).



Meals with my host family are very different than how they are at my house. Here, everything is put in the middle of the table and then either the matriarch serves everyone their allotted portions or a person just grabs what they want. I have had certain meals take 4 hours, but that’s because everyone is talking while eating. Even though the meals take up more time, it is worth it because we bond and talk about our days and grow closer as a

family. It also doesn’t hurt that everything I eat here is from local small farms or straight from the garden.


My host family often brings me places with them and show me around town, not just the tourist things though. They have brought me to my host sister’s birthday party and dinners with their choir. They also invite me to do activities with the family, such as go to an uncle’s birthday party, to mass (and then a traditional Sunday lunch), or to help them make their wine.HF1.JPG


I like to learn about different ways to practice one’s faith, especially since I grew up in a Christian environment. I have gone to mass with them a few times, which has been fully in Italian. This has been a different experience because I grew up memorizing the Creeds and going to a Lutheran church, but I had never gone to mass and had never done the sign of the cross before. The people at the church are very welcoming and forgiving if I don’t stand right when everyone else does.

My host family has really been there for me, whenever I need their help! From bonding over Stranger Things on Netflix with my host sister, to 4am hugs from my host brother, they really have accepted me for me. I am already dreading saying goodbye to them in a few months.

You Know You’re an American Studying Abroad When….

You Know You’re an American Studying Abroad When….

  • You don’t understand how big Europe is, so you travel too quickly/frequently Four hours in Rome isn’t enough time, a train ride through Germany isn’t experiencing Europe. Keep calm and smell the schnitzel!
  • You hear where someone is from and you have to secretly google it while they are talking.
  • Thinking a 2 Euro coin is a quarter and thinking everything is super cheap. Spoiler: it’s not. You just spent $3 on a piece of bread.
  • Looking like a tourist because of those knee-high white socks and a fanny pack.img_8461
  • Taking scenic photos without you in them You’re going to regret having no photos of you, plus if you google photos of the area, they are usually a thousand times better than you could even dream of taking.
  • You will hear the other Americans (or you yourself will) complain aboimg_8411ut missing local foods (In-n-Out, Perkins, 5 Guys, etc).
  • Tattoos of local things. People will either get them, or that conversion rate will make your wallet say no and put it in design purgatory.
  • You’ve become a pro at the “gazing into the distance by the ocean” stance and taking them for the others in your schoolimg_9090

I can’t judge anyone for this, I’ve got my tattoo design(s) sketched and miss pickles more than I ever thought possible. These are all from experience. I have sat in a hostel venting about how I just want a burger and fries. I have more panoramas of cities than I ever thought possible. Studying abroad though is life-changing; I always thought it was an over-exaggeration about it until I did it. I honestly didn’t know it was possible to be this happy and content with life.img_8467

Pompeii Excursion


Some of the students in Archeology: Cities of Fire went and explored Pompeii this weekend! Above, the students just finished checking the ancient sound system techniques used in the amphitheater.


The gladiator housing was interesting to students because they learned about the origins of the 2014 movie, Pompeii starring Kit Harrington and Emily Browning (and how inaccurate some scenes were).


Students enjoyed time afterwards to explore Pompeii on their own. Above, Lillian Hogle and Chelsea Gammieri stumbled across the amphitheater. Below, students Stephanie Jump and Tiffany Lopez pretend to be gladiators in the arena!


1 Students were surprised by the size of Pompeii (65 acres). They were also surprised by the amount of buildings that were free to the public to enter.

All in all, the trip was educational and eye-opening for all the students at Sant’Anna. They’re excited for the next trip to Herculaneum!


Naples: Anthropologically Astounding


For the second field trip of the school year, the Anthropology of Europe and History of Mafia students went to Napoli (Naples) for a day. Napoli’s etymology is from when the Greeks landed and called the area “Neapolis”, which literally translates to “new city”. It is the third largest city in all of Italy, and the largest city of Southern Italy. Within the city there are 27 centuries of history, a different era at every turn. Naples is the birthplace of pizza and the Camorra (one of the major Mafias in Italy).


For lunch, we went to a local Neapolitian house, which also hosted a dance in the street. Before the meal, we watched the homeowner and Antonio perform a classical advertisement that would have been performed for the opening of a butcher shop by someone dressed as Pulcinella. We also saw traditional folk music instruments, such as the putipù, triccaballacca, and the tambourine. We ate a traditional meal of pasta, eggplant parmigiana, and, of course, a little wine to drink with it all. It was quite delicious. While we were eating, the hosts sang to us in traditional Neapolitan. Afterwards, we went outside and danced in the streets. The dance we learned was the Tarantella. In the dance, you are stamping your feet like you are killing a tarantula. While there are no actual tarantulas in the dance, a person is supposed to imagine a tarantula and associate it with all of their stresses. The idea is that the longer you dance, the less stressed you will be and the freer you will be of your problems.IMG_9097.JPG

Castel Sant’Elmo is where we went next. We took the tram to the top of the hill and then walked to the Castel. The view was amazing, and from different walls, you can see the entire city of Napoli laid out before you. The fortress is in a hexagonal star shape at the top of what was the highest point in Napoli, making it ideal for a defensive structure. There were real cannons in the castle, which was super cool for us Americans. We then went down the 350 steps, which was a huge journey in and of itself. After that, we were all ready for the train ride back to Sorrento (I personally napped for the hour).


All in all, the students had a great time touring the town with our professor and local, Alberto Corbino. Naples has a reputation for being terrifying and “oh my gosh, you’re going to be robbed and murdered as soon as you get there”. I honestly don’t understand why it is (probably has to do with the Camorra). The city is lovely, the locals are friendly, and everywhere I went, I felt perfectly safe.

Life Abroad: Do’s and Don’ts

By Jenny Everett, Fall 2016 in Sorrento


  • Have at least one copy of your passport. You never know if you’ll lose it while running on the beach. Plus, you don’t have to carry it around with you this way. It’s probably a good idea to photocopy all other important documents too.
  • Listen to your instincts. Just because some blog says it’s totally safe to walk down a specific side street alone at night, doesn’t mean that it actually is. If something feels wrong, it probably is.
  • Sign up for a homestay, if it’s an option. It immerses you in the culture and really lets you know where the “hidden treasures” are. It is nice to have an apartment to go back to, and to hang out with other students around you, but chances are, you probably won’t have an opportunity to live with another family from a different culture again.


  • Look like a tourist. This includes those dumb neck-passport bags and looking at your map a lot in the middle of the street with a confused expression on your face. Go to a restroom and look at your map, and get a security belt instead of the lanyards. Flip flops are worn around the house, not in public (at least in mainland Europe). It shows you aren’t from the area. Every city has pickpockets, don’t make it easy for them and make yourself a target.
  • Just talk to anyone. It’s all fine to get to know locals and others (especially in hostels) but if someone approaches you in a manner that is too friendly and touchy, they’re probably not safe for you (or your wallet).


3 S’s of Sorrento

By Jennifer Everett, Fall 2016

Studying abroad, in general, is a great idea. Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento is a great fit for any student who likes small, safe, and spectactular cities. Though the closest public Italian college is in Naples, the Sant’Anna Institute teaches English, Italian, and other languages to local and international students in a specific branch of the school called Sorrento Lingue.


Sorrento has a population of about 15,000 people year-round. It is a bustling tourist destination in the summer and fall. The locals can speak some English, due to the tourism of the town. For me, there’s a local café that I go to every day and get an espresso at. The barista knows my order and what time I will probably be coming to pick it up. Other students have spoken about similar experiences.


Sorrento is a small town, and not really a risk for anything bad happening. Naples is the nearest major city, and as long as a person uses common sense, they will be fine in the city! Everyone knows everyone, so a person can walk alone at night and be perfectly safe, which is unlike how I grew up (and I grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota).


Sant’Anna overlooks the Bay of Naples, which is in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Naples is a train ride away, as well as Pompeii and Herculaneum. The Amalfi Coast is a bus ride away, and the beautiful towns of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello are along that trip. A person can also go to Naples or Capri by ferry. The city itself is lovely and lined with small side-streets filled with vendors and quaint little shops that a student at Sant’Anna will learn within a week.IMG_8065.JPG

It’s a great idea to study abroad. It’s an even better idea to study abroad in Sorrento. A student learns how to navigate the real world and earn college credits while staying in a small, safe, and spectacular city.

Capri Day Trip

By Jenny Everett

This past weekend, the entire Sant’Anna girl squad went to the magnificent island of Capri. We met “at the flags” at 8AM on a Sunday, and most of the group was a little upset about this. However, the trip was worth the early wake up time. We got onto the ferry at the Port, and a half hour into the trip, the island of Capri rose out of the fog and we all suddenly forgot how tired we were.


We booked a private tour of the island with our lovely guide, Julia. We were able to go around the entire island, and we even swam twice, once through the Green Grotto, and another time at the swimming area near a marina.


Once we got off the boat, we took a bus up to Anacapri, where we all got to eat and then the group split in two: some girls went with Julia around Anacapri, and the others took a chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro. I was in the group that took the chairlifts up, and it’s like a single person ski-lift. The view at the top was phenomenal.


Afterwards, we met up and went to the Piazzetta, where celebrities are often sighted. We didn’t see any, but the Kardashians were apparently on the island the same weekend as us (according to various Snapchats).  Some girls went shopping, others got gelato, but we all met and took another bus ride to the marina, where we boarded the ferry back to Sorrento.


All in all, the trip was a successful first outing for the students. The water is the most beautiful water I’ve ever been in, and I’m from the land of 10,000 lakes.