Tufts offers so many opportunities to experience life abroad and immerse yourself in a new culture. From France and China to Chile and Ghana, you can spend a semester abroad to get to know fellow students of different nationalities and develop independence, as well as everlasting memories.
But did you know Tufts offers short term study abroad programs as well? These programs, currently offered in Pavia, Italy and Talloires, France, allow Tufts students to spend a couple of weeks over the summer abroad, taking classes and having fun together experiencing a new culture if someone is unable to do a semester-long program for any reason. I chose Tufts in Pavia, where I lived 40 minutes south of Milan, and took computer science and Italian classes at the University of Pavia for 5 weeks while visiting places such as Cinque Terre and Venice!
As soon as I stepped off the plane at Milan’s international airport and sat in a shuttle with several fellow Tufts students, chatting away, I took in the new sights and sounds. Ancient buildings lined with modern boutiques, people chatting away in Italian, narrow cobblestone streets - streets that would soon feel like home every time I went out with friends, laughs echoing in the dark.
The Tufts in Pavia program offers two computer science courses taught by University of Pavia faculty: CS 52, a data science class, and CS 11, the introductory computer science class. For the Italian classes, there is Italian 1, the beginner Italian class, as well as higher levels depending on each student’s level of Italian. All classes took place where we were staying, at the Palazzo Vistarino, an 18th-century palace where nobles lived now belonging to the University of Pavia, except for CS 52; every week a group of us would travel by bus from the Palazzo to the University of Pavia’s campus. The classes were enriching and were a nice complement to the everyday cultural experience we were getting.
Outside of class, we fit in right with the crowd. Pavia is very much dominated by college students, so every day on the streets you could find people going to restaurants, shopping, or just hanging out. Wednesday nights were especially big because everyone would be dressed up to go out and have fun. We met quite a few local students this way, learning about each other’s cultures.
As part of our cultural experiences, there would be fun cultural excursions every weekend. The first weekend, our whole group went to Milan and a local tour guide gave us a tour of the history of Milan’s architecture. We gazed up at the arching skyscrapers juxtaposed with ancient cathedrals and marble. Afterwards, we went to the Duomo, a large and famous cathedral at the center of Milan. The next day, we went to the countryside and learned about the process of making Italian wine, even sampling a few! The second weekend, we went to Turin, 2 hours west of Pavia, to see Italy’s automobile museum.
Following Turin and Milan, we went to one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited: Cinque Terre, a gorgeous seaside national park by the Mediterranean. For 3 days, we toured picturesque seaside villas and swam in sparkling blue waters backdropped against cliffs. Of course, since it was so hot, I had lots of ice cream, among other good food there.
One new change to the program from last year was that the last weekend of our program was a free weekend, where we could plan our own trips. My friend and I chose to go to Venice where we rode over the canals and visited Doge’s Palace and Rialto bridge. Plus, we had a really good cannolo there.
As the final exams passed, we had a final dinner together on the last day with all the program staff and professors, laughing and talking about the wonderful memories we made. The morning I departed the Palazzo, I took with me a newfound sense of independence and confidence, a long-lasting impression of Italy’s hospitality, and an amazing experience I will never forget.
Grazie Pavia! I hope to be back soon!