Meet Anika - SYA Italy SEMESTER 2019


How did you come to the decision to attend SYA? 
The moment the SYA representative came to my school, I just knew that I had to take this opportunity, even though it was scary to think about leaving my friends and family for such a long time. I knew that I had a unique opportunity and I would regret it if I didn't go for it.

What did you learn in your semester abroad that surprised you? 
This may sound a bit silly, but I learned that I actually like tomatoes! Before going to Italy, I only really liked tomatoes when they were in some sort of sauce. But in Italy, tomatoes are in so many dishes that I was basically forced to eat them, which made me realize that they're actually really good! I guess I was also surprised by my willingness to try new things that I would not have done if I was back home.

Do you have a particularly special host family moment? 
There are so many, but one that comes to mind right away was on All Saints Day when my host family took me to a relative's house for a big family lunch. There were so many people, and I did not speak very good Italian at the time, but everyone was so kind to me and welcomed me into their family as if I had been there forever. Not to mention, there was incredible food, which can never hurt.

At SYA, the curriculum lives in and outside the classroom, what memorable educational experience did you have outside the classroom? 
On one of our fieldwork Wednesdays, we were told that we were going to go on a hike of sorts as a class, but we could speak only in Italian for the entirety of the walk. I was not too thrilled with the idea at the start, but it made me realize that I knew more Italian than I thought I did, and I got to spend some time in nature exploring Italy's beautiful landscapes.

How was your education at SYA different than at your high school? 
I would say that it was a lot more hands-on than at my home school. For example, my Agroecology class was a science class, but instead of sitting at desks and being lectured at, we always had some sort of hands-on activity to do in class. My education at SYA was also really focused on being in the host country, and we often had lessons or projects that connected to Italy in some way, even in more traditional classes like English.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering SYA? 
I would say that if they are reluctant to go because of fear of missing out on things back home, GO!!! Yes, you may miss a friend's birthday or a school dance, but you will make so many incredible, unique memories in place of the things that you're missing. To be honest, I barely even thought about the things I was missing back home because I was so focused on the present.

How did your semester abroad change you? 
Going to SYA made me so much more independent. I am not afraid to travel alone because I got so much practice while in Italy. I think the school does a great job easing students into being more independent, which made me very comfortable with the process of independent travel once it finally came to that. I know that if I could travel to Florence without any adults, I can do a lot of things.

How did SYA impact your college application process? 
One thing that was really helpful is that I had a whole host of great ideas that I could use for college essays. 

What life skills do you feel like you learned while at SYA?
I used to be afraid to ask a stranger for directions, but going to Italy pushed me out of my comfort zone. Now I can ask for directions in Italian!

How would you describe the value of a semester abroad? 
It's hard to put into words because there are so many things to get out of an experience like SYA. I would say one of the biggest things is the amazing connections you form with people from all over the world. I met some of the coolest people through SYA, and the fact that we all shared this common experience really brought us all together in a way that I haven't seen in other parts of my life.

Is there anything more you would like to add? 
I would also say that to anyone worried about staying with a host family, don't be. I was so nervous to be away from my family and to stay in a house with total strangers, but my host family was 100 percent my favorite part of the experience. All of the families are so welcoming and kind; they wouldn't be doing this if they didn't want you there.
Co-Curriculars Abroad:  Pasta-making class, Classes at a local gym

Favorite SYA Class: Italian Language and Culture

Favorite Food in Italy: It's a tie between stracciatella gelato and my host mom's lasagna
College Attending: New York University







To learn more about SYA Italy, check out the Italy Campus page.