Mathilde Semmes


Major: History
Minor: American Studies

Hi! My name is Mathilde Semmes and I went abroad during the fall of my junior year, August to December 2008. As a history major, I knew that going anywhere around the world would be an experience, but I also decided that I would finish my language requirements by fully immersing myself into the culture. Although I took Spanish throughout high school, I took two semesters of Italian before travelling and finishing my language in Ferrara, Italy: 1.5 hours train ride to Venice, 15 minute ride to Bologna, and only 2 hours to Florence! I like to describe Ferrara as a small city, complete with a grand cathedral, a castle with a moat, a huge university, and colorful history of its own. In fact, Ferrara was a thriving city during the Renaissance and although it cannot boast of A-List artists like Leonardo and Michelangelo, Ferrara’s B-List artists are just as influential and fantastic, just as the family of Ferrara—La Familia d’Este—can be compared to the Medicis of Florence.

The program I went on, through CIEE, was a great program of about 40 kids from all around the USA looking to learn Italian and dive into the culture, food, traditions, and language. We made lots of Italian friends (the gelato man was one of my best friends), but also had the chance to travel on the weekends, either by ourselves or on a group trip. CIEE gave us a challenging curriculum—but it was definitely worth it as I LIVED in the areas that I was so eager to learn about.

Going abroad was the experience of a lifetime for me. I learned how to travel confidently by myself, to speak Italian with any Italian, to eat anything I was offered, to always wear comfortable walking shoes, and to have an open mind to cultures and traditions all over the world. I highly encourage ANYONE who is interested in studying abroad to explore their options—and come talk to me if you have any questions whatsoever. I may be jealous that you get to go abroad again and I cannot, but I would sure love to help you make your experience the best that it can be.