The Sorrento Experience

How do you choose a place to study abroad? With increasingly comprehensive Global Education programs, universities have made it easy to go almost anywhere in the world. You want to make sure you pick a place that’s going to be interesting, engaging, and, of course, fun! It’s all the stress of the college selection process, all over again!

So, how do you choose where you’re going spend your life-changing semester abroad? Ask the people who have experienced the places firsthand: other study abroad students!

From discovering a favorite spot to take in your new home…

Experience 1




“This photo was taken fifteen minutes before sundown…Exploring the city is like a child walking for the first time. I can’t wait, till one day I can call myself an expert of the city.”

McCabe Hemmers





To celebrating a birthday in a place you never imagined you would…

Experience 2

“I never expected to be surrounded by such amazing people, being in a beautiful place I could have only dreamed of going to! It’s these blessings and unforgettable moments in life that make it all worth it!”

—Sofia Romaña

And discovering the traditions of the local holidays…

Experience 3




“There were people filling the streets dressed in masks and costumes. Children were throwing confetti everywhere and spraying everything and everyone with silly string. The pasticcerias were packed with families buying desserts for their celebrations…Viva Carnevale!”

Kendal Lariviere




And finally, to falling in love with your new home at every turn…

“Exploring the New Casa”

Stephanie Mele

No matter where you choose to study abroad, you’re sure to have experiences that will last a life time. When you study abroad in Sorrento, those experiences become life-changing. Where else will you have the opportunity to wake up to breathtaking views, understand the excitement of Italian culture, and become a part of a larger community with the welcoming locals?

You can’t go wrong with Sorrento!

Days Don’t Have to Be Typical

Here in the beautiful land of Sorrento life is a-buzz. Well, as a-buzz winter in Sorrento can be. The shops will start opening up as the weather gets warmer and the streets busier.

But before any of that: breakfast! Typically, I eat breakfast in our apartment where we have these super yummy pre-toasted toast things, but somimg_61191etimes I treat myself with a pastry. Until recently, coffee was not a typical addition. However, things have changed! I have had my first cappuccino (the morning coffee drink) and, much to my amazement, I actually enjoyed it… Which scares me because I’m afraid this is the beginning of the spiral into addiction. Oh well!

I have a brisk walk to the school, probably the shortest out of the students in the program so no complaining here. It doesn’t hurt that the view is absolutely beautiful. Especially with that man right there.img_6020

I’m taking three classes which have been condensed into two with an 150-hour internship for Education. I typically only have class Tuesday through Thursday, but my hours for my internship are a little up in the air at the moment! My Italian class is technically two classes because I am doing an accelerated version of Italian 101 followed by 102 in the same semester. It’s like a having a tutor who speaks fluent Italian, and Professoressa Nunzia is fabulous. My second class, Business of International Tourism, is a class that doesn’t exactly find a spot within my major but it definitely isn’t a blow off class. I can already tell how much Professor Corbino is going to teach us about what it means to be a responsible tourist and what sustainability truly looks like. He has already taught us so much about this region of Italy and all it has to offer. My internship has begun with observing in the classrooms of several different teachers as they teach English (English English too, not American English) as a second language in the same school where I am taking my courses. So far I have only had the pleasure of meeting a teacher named Lucy, and I already love her.

img_5987-2Lunch is usually an after thought, but at the end of the school day my roommate, Athena, and I head to the grocery store for dinner supplies. We have tried out several meals now, and I must say they have been pretty edible. There was this risotto that didn’t quite turn out last week… but what is life without failures? Now, I get to work to make it better each time. The food at the grocery stores is so fresh! We usually pick up our meat here, but where I buy my cheese and veggies changes from day to day. I even have a “cheese place.” There is a man on our street named Francesco who sells cheese, and I buy mozzarella from him. I am working up the nerve to try some different cheeses, like the Sorrentine formaggio “Treccia.” I work on ordering in Italian, and he calls me “bella.” That is one thing I love about the Italian people. They so appreciate you even attempting to speak to them in Italian, especially at the grocery store. Every time I have spoken Italian there their entire demeanor completely transforms. I love it. It makes me want to try harder to learn and speak this beautiful language.

Following dinner, if it’s Friday, Saturday or even Thursday we often go out. Just out on the town to check out the local scene. Most young people from Sorrento often leave the city to find fun elsewhere, but there are several places we have checked out in the area. There is a very new gelato place called PURO that stays open until people stop coming = around 1 to 2 am. Convenient for a late night gelato run! Inconvenient for the figure! Fortunately, it’s colder right now and the gelato cravings have not grown to uncontrollable proportions quite yet.

A day in Sorrento is like a day in San Diego, California. It’s a day that has amazing potential. It just happens to be in Italy. :)

thanks to Makayla Vandeveer , Point Loma Nazarene University

A Poco a Poco… My Internship Program Abroad



There is no substitute for the experience gained when working in a foreign country amongst the local people. Why is it, one may ask, that only when leaving their home country they are able to gain invaluable knowledge about themselves and the world that they work in that is otherwise unattainable in their pervious situation? When working abroad one gains an understanding of cross-cultural communication and collaboration skills allowing for maximum cultivation of new innovations, otherwise not inherent to our congenital outlook. In other words, by working in a foreign environment one will learn a fresh new way of thinking that will not replace the old way yet, add insights from a different perspective.

As the Marketing intern at the Sant’Anna Institute I am entrusted with many duties including management of Sant’Anna’s social media platforms, blog, content creation, and the presentation/execution of new marketing & growth strategies. All of the skills I have developed performing these tasks are accompanied by the additional proficiency of collaboration amongst a new culture and language. When encountering these differences it is crucial to be unbiased. The only way to overcome ethnocentrism is by keeping an open mind and displaying a genuine eagerness to learn.

When will this help me in the future? What if I want to work in my home country for the rest of my life? These are some of the common objections to an opportunity abroad. To these people I beg to ask, will you ever work for a multinational company, where many of the employees are from many different cultural backgrounds? The benefits do not end at the workplace however, being from the U.S. there are many people who I interact with on a daily basis, in my community, that are of varied ethnicities. This short time in Sorrento has opened up my eyes to a side of the world I would have otherwise never understood, making me a more educated and well-rounded global citizen.

Although, I am a college student working an internship the benefits are one in the same. During my semester abroad I have traveled from the U.S. to Southern Italy in order to further my understanding of other cultures, not only in the work place but in the community as well. While living and working in Sorrento for the four months of fall semester, I have had many responsibilities to balance and obstacles to overcome that will aid me in developing as a student, employee, and global citizen. These benefits along with the wealth of connections from community leaders, business owners, and the local families will be a priceless addition to my resume and personal network.




“Studying abroad with Sant’Anna Institute was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I made amazing friends, learned loads of Italian and got to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. You can’t beat the people, the location or the culture of Sorrento, Italy. You get all the charm of a small town and the community that comes with it, but with endless opportunities to explore and you’ll never run out of things to do. Every time you walk out of the door, you’ll see something so beautiful it will take your breath away. ” – Rebecca, summer 2015


When life gives you lemons…

The smell of limoncello accompanied by the excitable tweets of the sparrows, hopping from lemon branch to lemon branch swirls through the air in Sorrento.

Here is where I find and leave a piece of my heart, again and again.

Sorrento is a special place that I first visited with my university in 2008 for an Ancient History Study Tour and again with my bff in 2011, where I was sick as a dog. It is situated at the base of the Gulf of Naples and to the northern edge of the Amalfi Coast (we are in Italy, just incase you needed more information).


I had not thought I would visit this little slice of heaven twice this year, once on my own and the other with my mum.

Words really don’t do this place justice, but I will do my very best to take you on a cobblestone journey.


Nearly a 4 hour train ride from Rome, with a change in Naples, Sorrento is at the end of the line (I have included how to get here at the end of this post, just incase you wanted to sus it out a little). I guess you could say it is like the pot of gold found at the end of the rainbow (in my opinion, anyway!).

While tourism numbers are high here, the vibe is anything but what you would find in similar places in Italy. This small coastal town has one main road with little alleys fanning off from it. Many a café can be found here and restaurants with some of the best Italian style (yes it is different to what we are used to back home) pizza, pasta and gelato. Being the birthplace of the famous limoncello, many varieties can be sampled, consumed after a meal and bought for either personal consumption or a good gift.

My heart rests in its most peaceful state here in Sorrento for a few key reasons.


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The Lemon Orchard: When I first stumbled upon this quaint orchard in ’08 I fell in love. Behind high bluestone walls you will find tree after tree, covered in lemons (in the right season). The singular dirt path leads one through the centre of the orchard, where wooden seats built into the railing along the way greet you kindly. 50 metres into the orchard, spanning one block back, there is a vine covered eating area and small stall that offers a sample shot of limoncello and friendly conversation.

My childhood was spent on a reasonable sized suburban property in Melbourne, where my parents maintained a killer garden and my friends and I would play ninja turtles or cops and robbers in amongst the trees. My mum still lives there and every morning you wake to the sound of wildlife, more so the sound of birds welcoming the day. So you could say that the trill of feather balls is something that centres me somewhat, especially when coupled with sunlight and a soft spring breeze. This lemon orchard embodies all of this and more.

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Being able to sit here on my first visit back this year, I just felt a wave of calm flow over me followed by a beaming smile (which may have looked a little weird as I was sitting there solo). To then be able to share this treasure with my mum is something I truly will cherish for the rest of my life.

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As I mentioned earlier, when you reach the end of the orchard you are greeted by a staff member who works in the local limoncello factory. In ’08, that person was Rossella with whom my friend Makushla and I had a great chat. To bring us to my first visit in May, this year, I decided to ask whether Rossella still worked in the area. As it turns out, the orchard, store and factory have been in her family for decades, so of course she was still around! I made a point to go and see her, even if she didn’t remember me from seven years ago.


On my second visit with my mum in August, we made a point to visit Rossella and her father every day and have lovely chats and laughs. International friendships are super awesome and an aspect of my solo travel I was honestly not expecting and boy am I glad to have been shown otherwise. Read about Il Giardino del Cataldo here soon.

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Pasta, Pizza, Eggplant Parmigana: As well as the orchard, my other fond memory of Sorrento was the food! I may be slim (thank you parents) but I bloody love good food. Sorrento has it in the bag when it comes to cuisine. Of course, of course…Italy stands strong when it comes to pizza and pasta (I actually prefer the ‘western’ take on Italian food)…but people in Sorrento must have taken extra classes after school to learn how to make scrumptious food! In 2011 I tried to go back to the restaurant that stole my taste buds. Unfortunately I was sick as a dog and the restaurant was closed for remodelling. This time round, my health is in tip-top shape and the restaurant was open! Huzzah! It and many other restaurants spoiled me (and then my mother) with their homemade pasta, extra artichokes on a pizza, crumbed veal and limoncello gelato. Bellissimo. Our favourite restaurant can be read about here soon.

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Vesuvius: Mount Vesuvius is a spectacular monster, standing at almost 2000 metres. In A.D. 79 the monster awoke, to many peoples surprise (as it was not known to be an active volcano) and its eruption covered many towns, in particular Pompeii and Herculaneum. Hundreds of years later, archeologists began to uncover these towns, which can now be walked through (excavations continue today). Standing high above the Gulf of Naples, this volcano is rather spectacular to view. One of my most loved photographs was taken in ’08 atop of our hostel roof, looking back toward Vesuvius at sunrise. Whether it be sunrise, sunset or in the clouds, Vesuvius is a wonder. Even flying over it was a treat.



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Capri: In May I decided to do a day tour of Capri with a few other tourists. The rocky island is rather spectacular to view from a boat, with grottos, coral fragments and archways naturally existing and in full view dropping into the ocean. The island itself has the town of Capri and Anacapri, both with exorbitantly priced restaurants and boutiques. In my opinion, Capri is a place you kind of have to go to in order to experience once, but there is not a whole lot to do. With days like this, I would always suggest doing a tour so that you can not only meet other travellers and make lasting memories, but also to see as much as you can in the short space of time you may have.

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Amalfi Coast: Whether it be a ridiculous winding road or choppy waters, there are a few ways for you to get to areas along the Amalfi Coast. The port has many companies offering day trips to Capri, Positano and Amalfi…I recommend that you do some research as prices vary form company to company. For example, I had booked my mum and I in for sailing day to Amalfi and expected to pay €45 but was confronted at the port with another company with the same itinerary for €25. Just think….that is more money for gelato!

Both Positano and Amalfi are beautiful locations to spend a day or two just meandering the alley ways and peeking in the quaint shops. They are not very large and so it does get to a point where you feel like you have seen it all, and this may happen quicker than you realise. The coloured houses are propped on the cliff face as if they grew out like trees. The views are quintessential Italy and can only be beaten by their sister, Cinque Terre (which I am yet to get to).

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If boats are not your thing, you can book a 2-day ticket for about €8 and catch the bus to Positano and Amalfi (departing from Sorrento Station). Just note that the bus drops you at the top of Positano and there are hundreds of stairs to get down to get to the centre of town and the beach. And let me tell you, they are not fun to walk up when they induce a waterfall due to the downpour I got! What goes down must come up, in this case!

People: this was where I stumbled across a lovely couple, Steve and Kim. I heard their Australian accent as I was taking photos of Vesuvius at sunset. They were taking selfies! I asked if I could take their photo, and to my surprise, they said no! That didn’t matter, however, as we ended up talking for about 45 minutes and shared some cool stories before they went off for dinner…never to be seen again, or so I thought. The next night, after my day trip to Positano, I was sitting having dinner for one, as is my tradition, and low and behold, at the table down from me there are Steve and Kim! They invite me to dinner the following evening and we have a splendid time eating, chatting and have some great laughs. I get quite overwhelmed and amazed when I think about how this whole solo travel thing has been anything but solo, with the random encounters that I have. These two, I am sure I will see again in Australia!


Sorrento and I are having an affair. There, I said it. I am not ashamed and don’t feel the need to go to counselling about it. We will see each other again and I am even projecting and putting it out there that I will try and do a month or two of summer work there. When you find one of your happy places, be it your home town, your bedroom, New York City, the depths of Cambodia or even the shower…you make sure you see it again…or if you can’t (which I hope is not the case for the shower), you take yourself there in your mind when everything else becomes a bit too much. So with that said, I will be seeing Sorrento again and the thought makes me weak in the knees!


How to get to Sorrento:

There are many sites saying the same thing about how to get to Sorrento, but in case this is your first encounter with such information let me share with you my experiences.

From Napoli Airport: this is easy peasy as going to and from the airport there is a direct bus that drops you at Sorrento Station, where you can easily walk to your accommodation.

From Rome Airport/Termini/Station: this is a little tougher but totally doable. My mum is in her late 60s and stuck out the journey with me, where we caught an airport shuttle (€4-6 each) to Roma Termini (Central Station). From here, I booked us on the fast train to Napoli Central Station (€80 each for business class – reclining seats and air conditioning). There are other fares on the fast train and also another train that takes 2.5 hours, as the opposed to 1.10 hours we had. It all depends on your budget and level of comfort required. I have done both the fast and slow train…the slow one is more primitive, but if you can suck it up, it is not all that bad. From Napoli Central Station you have a few options. If you have a hotel booked in Sorrento, you may be able to arrange for a transfer (€80-110 for the car) or can often find porters offering you a ride (I’m not sure how much I trust them, especially departing from Napoli) and finally you have the option of catching another train (€3-6 for a one way ticket and 1 hour-ish ride). Now this train is the most basic of basics. If you have luggage, you will struggle to get a seat and need to be ok with either sitting on your bag in the throughway or watching your bag from your seat as it sits near the door. This train is not air conditioned and through May-August you can expect to perspire and need a shower as soon as you have checked into your accommodation.

Expect to do the same in reverse with any of these options. We did the train from Sorrento – Napoli, fast train Napoli – Roma Termini, shuttle bus Roma Termini – Roma Airport, free shuttle to hotel (ps. With the bus…make sure you print your ticket, as they will not accept the ticket that is emailed to you. We ended up having to pay for the tickets again, even though I had them in my email. Such a joke).

If you go, walk down Vico Primo Rota and look for my Maldivian sticker that I pushed into a wall!


When I told my friend, Tony, that I’d be studying in Sorrento he looked right at me and said “Ohhh that’s the best part goomba!”. I knew it must’ve been true, because this was coming from a guy who lived in the country for 10 years, and who eats, sleeps, and breathes all things Italian; therefore I appointed him as my “consigliere of travels”.

Still I could not wait to go and see for myself if Sorrento really was the best part; And you know what? The man was right!

Now I know most of you may be thinking, what about Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice… all the history, the architecture, everything! Well, Sorrento has all those things and more:incredible weatherfoodbeaches, a gorgeous coast, a rich history , family friendly environment, close proximity to: Naples, the Amalfi coast, Positano, etc., southern Italian charm, small town pride and hospitality, authentic Italian owned businesses, and the three big ones: wine, women, and song. Where else can you find all of these things in one place? Nowhere, that’s where. Those other places are great, but they’re too touristy. Sorrento is a tourist town where an Italian can still be an Italian, and one can fall in love everyday…And I usually did. It had all the little things you expect and want from any Italian town… clothes hanging out of the windows in the alleys, people speeding around on Vespas, and old men sitting in the street talking/playing cards/doing nothing (one day I hope to join them)… I’m telling you, it doesn’t get any better than this!


I chose to live with a family, so I could learn the Italian culture as it exists in Italy. Serena from Sant’Anna, did an amazing job matching me with my family; we had so much in common. Flavia and Enrico were both actors, as am I; Salvatore (the Papa) and I both liked the same music; and Grazia (the Mamma) and Marzia liked to cook and I love to eat! It was a match made in heaven!

The family wass very sweet and a huge asset to my experience here. The parents treated me like a real child. Every day I had a traditional Italian dinner with the family. It was my favorite part of the day because I could talk with the family and I always enjoyed the food.

Salvatore was fiercely proud to be Italian, and had values in preserving the old ways; characteristics that I admire and respect immensely. He even grows his own grapes for wine (a once common practice that is rapidly dying out). This year I was able help him in harvesting the grapes and making the wine. It was a beautiful thing. He was even kind enough to forgive me when I spilled some of the grape juice for the wine; at least I think he forgave me! I loved speaking with him and listening to his funny stories in his perfect “Neapolitan-English”; he was always helping me to understand the culture better. And like any wise man, he was sure to tell me the same stories again and again, so I didn’t forget, which is great.

Grazia is very popular in Sorrento and it is easy to understand why. She is a big hearted woman who will help you in any way she can. She was always going out of her way to find things for me to do that she knew I would like, as well as giving me directions, planning out trips, correcting my speaking errors, and helping me when I got lost God knows where. Nearly every evening, after making sure I am well fed, we sat down together and she gladly answered any questions I had and helped me in speaking the proper Italian. With her help, I improved every day. Now when I speak in Italian I sound far less like a hoodlum. Salvatore and Grazia are two of the best friends I could have made!

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But it doesn’t end in Sorrento. Hospitality in Southern Italy has no bounds! My Zi’ Pasqual’ and his brother and my dear friend Andre’ told me when I get to Italy to call their cousin Francesco. So I did. This was a man who I had never meet, seen, or spoke to in my life. When I called him he was ecstatic to hear from me. “A friend of Pasqual’ and Andre’ is a friend of mine!” he said in Italian. The very next day, only a few hours after we hung up the phone, he and his wife picked me up at the train station and had me as a guest in his home, in Salerno, for Sunday dinner. Let me tell you something, when I tell you we ate….WE ATTEEE! I can count on one hand the times I’ve eaten as much as I did that day, and I one of those times was ’02 (yes, the year). We sat for 6+ hours and just ate. At times I thought I would die, but I made it and it was fantastic! I could tell you what we ate, but I’d need a fresh article to do it. Francesco took a picture of me and you can see the sweat on my face from all the force I was exerting while eating.

It was an honor and a pleasure being in their home. Francesco is a great man. He and his family treated me like family and fed me like a king, even though they never knew who I was before that day; Now that’s respect! That’s the Italian way!

All in all Sorrento and Italy is great. Time finally came for me to leave, I was sad, but I will definitely “Torna a Surriento”. To anyone who has never been here, Italian or not (but especially, Italians) you need to go. Words cannot do it justice, but if I had to describe this beautiful land in just ONE word, only ONE comes to mind… As us paisans say in the “new country”…. “Fuhgeddaboudit!”



“My spring semester in Sorrento was beyond all kinds of expectations. I gained an experience of a lifetime while studying abroad. I learned a lot about myself. I learned patience and acceptance for other cultures and ethnicities. I learned what it’s like to not be understood in your language which has taught me patience for when I return to America and hear people speaking in what are considered foreign languages in America. This experience was definitely worthwhile.”