An encounter such as this was exactly why Henning wanted to study in Prato.
"Prato is not a touristy town, which I think is perfect," she said. "I left the U.S. for a reason, which was to live in a completely different country that has a completely different way of life. I feel like I'm getting everything out of what I should be experiencing – the way real Italians live."
Classmate Emily Deane '14 said the past couple months have been a whirlwind of new experiences. "The idea of living in a new and foreign country was extremely exciting to me," she said. "Stepping outside of my comfort zone forced me to grow as a person."
Deane, a graphic design and marketing double major, concedes that some anxiety set in during the plane ride. Those nerves subsided soon after arriving. "With the help of the great staff and my new friends, my uneasiness quickly disappeared," she said.
To fully immerse themselves in the culture, Victor Markiw, a lecturer who is teaching music classes at the Prato campus this semester, requires students to attend concerts and operas, dine at the local eateries, visit nearby cities and towns and even play soccer with local students.
"The students have impressed me with their thirst for adventure and their openness to a new environment," added Rachel Torello, a lecturer who is teaching psychology classes. "Each day I hear about new things they have done and place they have visited."
Carmine Delli Gatti '14, a marketing major, had visited Italy twice before. But this was his first opportunity to spend extended time living in the country where his father was born. "I feel like I have grown so much from this experience," he said. "I also think it will give me an advantage when it comes to my career because I have learned how people in another country market their products."