The Charger Blog

Sports Night is a Highlight of Students’ Study Abroad Experience

Students studying abroad at the University’s campus in Prato, Italy, are big fans of Sports Night, an activity-filled evening that brings together students, faculty, and staff for fun and connection outside the classroom.

February 9, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Dora Crespo ’26
Dora Crespo ’26 plays table tennis with a classmate.

During her first semester as a Charger, Dora Crespo ’26 spent many Monday nights getting to know her classmates – often while playing a game of ping pong or while serving a volleyball. They were in the heart of Tuscany, where Crespo spent much of her first semester as a college student, studying abroad at the University’s campus in Prato, Italy.

Monday nights are known as “Sports Night” to students, faculty, and staff in Italy. Activities serve up a fun way for everyone to come together outside of the classroom and off campus for a relaxed and laid-back night of sports and games.

“It’s definitely helped me to feel connected with my classmates in a competitive but good-natured way,” said Crespo, an international affairs major. “It’s a lot of fun, and many of us go out to eat together afterward. I get to see people I don’t usually see during the rest of the week.”

'Immersion in Italian culture'
Sports night in Prato, Italy
Chargers gathered for Sports Night a short walk from the University’s campus in Prato, Italy.

The activities take place just a short walk from the campus at Sant’Anna Oratorio (oratory), which offers space for local kids to play and come together for organized activities during the week. But on Monday nights, it’s filled with members of the University community who are charged up and cheering for each other on a field or on a court.

This weekly gathering place for the University community offers ping pong tables and foosball and an outdoor volleyball court. There’s also a well-lit soccer field with benches for Chargers to watch the game. Getting out on the field is a Monday night goal for many Chargers.

For Julia Sosnowski ’23, playing volleyball with her classmates was a highlight of Sports Night. She enjoyed getting to see her fellow students who she didn’t get to see in the classroom.

Chargers play volleyball
Chargers enjoy a game of volleyball.

“It’s a great way to get exercise and to be active with other people,” said Julia Sosnowski ’23, an interior design major. “It’s fun when everyone comes and joins us on the court. The majority of the students come, which is great because it’s good to see everyone.”

Faculty and staff often attend Sports Night as well, and it is a fun way for students to get to know them outside the classroom and the campus. It’s something Prof. Piero Ianniello, M.A. looks forward to. He can often be found on the soccer field with students, dressed for a soccer game in a jersey and cleats, saying it’s a fun way to share one of his passions with his students – a passion shared by many Italians.

“In Italy, soccer is our sport,” he explains. “It is another way for students to have a real immersion in Italian culture. I’ve always played, and it’s fun. Students also get to see another side of their professor, and it’s good for them to see me as a person outside the classroom.”

'How I got to know everyone'
Students on the soccer field
Students were all smiles on the soccer field.

Kevin Murphy, Ph.D., dean of the University’s Tuscany Campus, says that since its inception, Sports Night has been something students have looked forward to each week. He, too, is often part of the Monday night fun, connecting with students and enjoying the activities.

For Nyle Hopping ’26, Mondays were an especially busy day while he was studying abroad. He had three classes during the day, and he always looked forward to Sports Night afterward. He enjoyed spending time with his fellow Chargers, getting some exercise, and having some fun on the soccer field or on the volleyball court.

“I love sports, and coming here, there’s lots to do,” said Hopping, a criminal justice major. “It’s good to get some energy out and to focus on teambuilding. We had Sports Night on one of my first days here, and that’s how I got to know everyone. We all knew each other after that.”