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I have been fortunate to study abroad twice during my time at Gonzaga – once in Zambezi, Western Zambia, and once in Florence, Italy. Although these opportunities were extremely different, in length and in experience, both Zambia and Italy taught me so many things outside of the classroom that have been instrumental in my education at Gonzaga.

During my summer in Zambezi in 2015, I spent 4 weeks teaching English literacy to 6th graders at Chilenga Primary School. Not only were my eyes opened to the vast differences in the way we live and the blessings I have been granted throughout my life, but I got the opportunity to truly understand accompaniment and what it means to walk alongside someone. In my time in Zambezi, I earned 6 credits taking classes in Leadership and English, which coincided with the real life experiences happening outside the walls of the convent we were living in. To see leadership philosophies put into action in our community development projects, truly gave value to the lessons we learned in the classroom. I also visited Livingstone, Zambia, saw Victoria Falls and went on a safari in Chobe National Park. My time in Zambezi allowed me to completely immerse myself in a foreign culture, while becoming more aware of myself and the way that I engage with others and walk hand in hand with them.

My semester in Florence, Italy in Fall 2015 allowed me to continue this immersion and continue to learn how to interact with different cultures. Although studying abroad in Florence was a stark contrast to my time in Zambezi, it provided me a different perspective on culture and a new way to engage with the world and become a global citizen. The Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio were just a short walk from my pensione, and the famous David statue could be found along the way. I ate delicious pasta, walked at least five miles each day in the city, and participated in classes taught by both Gonzaga professors and Italian professors at our Gonzaga-in-Florence campus. I traveled to a new place each weekend, and cities I had always dreamed about visiting were checked off my bucket list, weekend by weekend. Each Tuesday, I enjoyed dinner cooked by my Italian “host family” in the program “English for Pasta”. They attempted to teach me some Italian words and showed me how to cook their favorite dishes, and in return I was once again able to learn the value of accompaniment, and realize how many valuable lessons studying abroad has taught me. Gonzaga and Study Abroad truly allowed me to expand my horizons and experience all that the world has to offer – it was one of my best decisions during my time at Gonzaga.

  • Riley Ramage, Class of 2017 (Zambezi, Summer 2015 & Florence, Fall 2015)

Attending Gonzaga in Florence was an incredible experience that allowed for constant excitement, continuous travel and immersion in a “home” country. To move away from home to college is a courageous leap in and of itself; the decision to study abroad and live in a different country took even more courage. When students choose to study abroad, Gonzaga-in-Florence allows them to step far from their comfort zone, but still stay within the security of the Gonzaga we all know and love.

I was thrilled to attend school in Florence, Italy. Firenze! It’s quite an enchanting place to study. The food, the twinkling lights from the Ponte Vecchio reflected on the Arno River, the ancient buildings and history rising up on either side of the street. Milan and Rome are short train rides away and The David can be found in a museum that is just down the street from school. I loved that studying in Florence allowed me to completely enjoy the Italian culture, but also promoted maximizing my time in Europe. Studying with Gonzaga allowed me to travel to a different country for the weekend and be home in Florence for Monday night dinner with the Italian family that I was paired with through the unique GIF “English for Pasta” program. The GIF program is truly the best of both worlds; traveling Europe but having someplace to call home during the semester. In total, I traveled to 9 countries and 27 cities within Italy and surrounding European countries. It’s a feat I could not have experienced without the Gonzaga-in-Florence program.

– Katie Freeman, Class of 2017 (Florence, Fall 2015)

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