Venice Week 11: April 6, 2018


“Venice is a fragile city, fragile structurally and physically but also when it comes to its social fabric,”

The sky was filled with winter stars on a full moon night as I walked to San Giustina at three a.m. to see my first departing students and some members of their families off in a taxi to the airport. My flight had been cancelled or I would have joined them. The finality of our Semester together struck me as the lights from the taxi faded into the darkness of the canal and I waved so long. How fast the time has fleeted after so much preparation and care to make sure our students had the best experience I could give them here. And now as the last seven students would be leaving within a short amount of time, I know they are beginning their next chapter, going forth in their mystery lives, and continue to grow and change. I am so proud of these students and the ways in which they embraced Venice, the elegant old woman, the fragile city with glorious beauty that still impresses those who take time to know her and all of her perfect imperfections. Our students, have lived as Venetians live and they now know her treasures and of her triumphs as they have stood in front of various works of art in the exact places as the artists, architects, musicians, and actors have in days gone by. They remained flexible and as the challenges of the present-day culture presented itself various ways. All of their effort and hard work has paid off and they are all the richer for it. What a joy it is for me to see the impact first hand of what this Program has done for them. These months of accelerated living pulls, stretches, and challenges and confronts each one to the core of who they are. When they are on the other side of it, such as now when the program ends, it is in these moments and the weeks and months and years to come they will continue to process, relive, remember, and cherish all of it…even the hard stuff…

Having a Semester Abroad Program is very rare in a Community College setting and it is with great honor and privilege for me to be a part of it. Not one day do I take for granted, My sincere thanks to President Jane Karas for her leadership and vision, to Colleen and all the ladies and Ben in the Foundation Office, a special thanks to Allison Smeltz and her help with the blog, Gerda Reeb our International Program Director, to my comrades in the Art Department for all their support, to Tressa in the copyroom, to Caroline and Amy in the Business office for their direction and guidance…I am grateful also for Matteo Savini and Anna Santini and the teachers at the Istituto Venezia, our sister school, for their dear friendship and partnership. I would like to thank all of our donors and their generosity and care as they invested in our young people, to the families and friends who entrusted their son and daughters to our care, and to all of you who have taken the time out of your schedule to follow our journey by reading the blog. What an incredible “village” we have! Finally to our Bravi Studenti! I enjoyed and loved every minute with each of you and hold our time together very dear to my heart. We learned a lot from each other as a “The Team” (Preston’s name for us)…. I know this is not the end but only the beginning!

One Last Salute from the Lagoon!
FVCC Semester in Venice Program, Director



The past three months have been amazing. I learned so much, (a whole 18 credits worth and then some). I’m really going to miss Venice when I leave and hope that someday I can make it back here. This trip has inspired me so much in the way of art as well as to just get out and do the things I want to do. For three years Susan has been trying to get me to go on this trip but I was worried about the cost or had other things going on with life that prevented me from being able to leave. I am so glad I finally decided to just do it. I love the amount of history and culture here and can’t wait to share what I’ve learned about cooking and history and the entire new language I can speak to my friends and family in to confuse them. Overall, I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to go on this trip. Huge thank you to FVCC for the generous scholarships as well as my Dad and Grandparents. Without all of that I wouldn’t have been able to come and experience this amazing semester!


I can’t believe that our time in Venice has come to an end. It feels like we all just arrived for the first time yesterday. I had mixed feelings of excitement and sadness as I left Venice. I personally grew so much as a person on this trip and learned a ton not just about Venice and Italy, but about the world. I made some of the most incredible memories. The last week of Venice my Mom and Stepdad came to visit and it was fun getting to take them to all my favorite places. I took them to Murano and Burano along with some of my favorite bakeries and cafes. Showing them around made me realize how much Venice had really became my home. It made me realize how much I took for granted. I am excited to leave and go on to my next adventures, but I am so thankful and feel incredibly blessed that I got to be a part of this study abroad experience. I owe a big thank you to the generous donors, my Mom, Grandparents and everyone who helped fund my trip and supported me along the way. Venice and the many people I got to know on this trip will always have a special place in my heart.


Bongiorno Kalispell,

I am sad to say this will be the last weather report I will give, and it seems Venice is going to treat us well for our last days with sunshine. The semester has officially ended and there are few words that could describe the experience it has been. It would be a lie to say that I am not a different person coming back to the states and I would say the same about everyone who goes on this voyage. The time spent living in another country changes the way people think about their way of living and what they take for granted; it really makes one respect how hard life can be. I know that I will be returning with more confidence then when I left and with a bucket of new experiences under my belt. So, I send thanks to everyone who helped with the program and support it because without you this trip would not exist and without it those who participated might have been somewhere else then where they are now, so Grazie mille. Thank you, Kalispell, for the support and I hope the sun is shining there when I return from my adventures after the semester. I wish you all the best and I am signing off for the last time. Arrivederci e in bocca al lupo.


Well I’m not sure where the time has gone. Saying goodbye to Italy was hard but reflecting on all the great experiences warms my soul. This trip was not only educational but grew me immensely as a person. First of all I met so many great people and made great connections. All my teachers were so genuine and I was also able to meet other locals in Italy as I wrote about in past entries. Through chatting with these people and my classes I feel like I have a better grasp on Italian culture and a better international mindset. Taking Italian language classes was so much fun and I would like to continue to learn the language. I will be reading my Italian cookbooks at the least this summer. I think it is obvious but I really loved experiencing and learning about food in Italy- if you don’t believe me ask Libby about what increased the weight of my suitcase!

The last week of our trip my Mom and sister came to see me. I got to show them around and enjoy my favorite food spots with them. The first night they arrived I cooked a Venetian pasta dish for them and Libby’s family with some amazing dark bread from the bakery right around the corner of my apartment. The next morning I took them to the Rialto fish market and bought ingredients for dinner. Our next stop was the island of Murano where we shopped for glass and also ate at my favorite family-owned restaurant that our student teacher Francesca works at. Then we visited the colorful island of Burano and had our traditional cookies and some really awesome cappuccinos. For dinner we had caprese salad, with bufala mozzarella, of course (Libby and I’s favorite cheese), beer-battered shrimp, and cappesante scallop pasta. That was my first time cooking scallops so I quite enjoyed that. The last day I got to show them my school and the area around it. We got absolutely delicious sandwiches for only one euro each at my favorite little hole in the wall place, pastries from Tonolo’s, and showed them the outside of the San Marc’s Basilica and the Arsenale. In showing my family around I really felt as though Venice was my home and I realized how comfortable I got with living there. Then our group went out for a fancy dinner that Susan arranged. It was nice to all be together one last time. Living with roommates, being part of a group, experiencing a different culture, and meeting all the people I did helped me grow so much as an individual. I learned patience, compromise, and definitely new perspectives- life lessons I couldn’t have experienced to the same effect back home.

Now I am in Greece trying to resist the urge to speak Italian everywhere I go! It has always been a dream to visit Italy and this trip will always have a special place in my heart. I can’t begin to thank enough everyone who supported me and my classmates in any way, shape, or form. Travelling abroad is not an easy process and this trip would not be possible without all the donors, parents, teachers, etc who make it possible, so again grazie!


I can’t believe my time in Venice is up (for now)! Upon leaving I was beyond ready to head to Boston to continue my exploration of art on my own and see my beautiful Momma. Now that I’ve left, however, I find myself speaking to people in Italian who clearly don’t understand Italian and throwing Venice into any conversation I can. It quickly became the center of my world. As we studied in Commedia dell’Arte, Venice was the overwhelming protagonist of my story. I am so grateful to see my mom finally, I think I got the tightest hug I’ve ever gotten in my life when we first saw each other. We’re having so much fun running around Boston and hanging out with family I’ve always wanted to meet. Lucky me, a little bit of Venice lives here; the Boston Museum of Fine Art held a gorgeous Tiepolo painting that once hung in a palace of the Grand Canal.

I would really like to emphasize the impact my amazing teachers had in my life throughout the semester. Matteo, the director of FVCC’s sister school taught me a lot about the condition Venice is actually in. This magical city has its problems too, just like every other place in the world. Anna, Stefania, Deborah, and Anna (different Anna) were all wonderful teachers that not only taught me about the history of Venice but also of the people living in it now and what it means to be Venetian. I am definitely coming back soon to visit them all. Damiano was also a major help to us with literally anything we asked. The Istituto Venezia should be a treasured friend to FVCC forever. And of course, a big thank you to Susan for being our guardian on this amazing trip.

Thank you also to the donors, who made it possible for so many to go on this trip who wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. YOU make this possible for us!!

Arrivederci tutti e buona fortuna!


Well it’s been a great run! I’ve had a blast in the last 3 months, I’ve seen new places (Venice, Rome, Florence) and I’ve met amazing people that have taught me so much. I had good and bad experiences that have taught me a lot. Now that I’ve seen what it’s like to travel and how exciting and rewarding it can be I don’t think I can stop. I would like to thank the people that put together and run this program, you are the reason it’s so great. And to all that follow and have supported the other students and myself. You have changed my life and have helped me so much. So for the last time blogging, of the 2018 FVCC Venice Study Abroad Program, THANK YOU and I hope you all have a wonderful day.


Well, this is the last week of our wonderful semester abroad in Venice, Italy! It was a fairly busy last few days since we had an art analysis to write, an apartment to clean, lots of packing to do, last minute things to do all around Venice, and family coming to visit. Also, despite the fact that we have been very busy, we still found time to make the most of our last days in this mysterious, romantic city such as: go to the Florian cafe (the oldest cafe in Venice), leisurely visit the Peggy Guggenheim museum, and shop around for some souvenirs for friends and family. We also had our last final exam for the semester, which was such a great relief! Also, I had such a fun time when my family came to visit me in Venice because I was able to show them around the maze-like city and suggest many fun things for them to do since I was busy with my departure preparations. All in all, my last week in Venice was ultra special in so many ways. I don’t think I would’ve wanted it in any other way.

As this incredible semester comes to a bittersweet close, I feel so sad to be leaving the life I’ve developed in the beautiful city of Venice. This city will forever hold a special place in my heart. Also, I would like to say a special thank you to those who continually support this study abroad program, and sponsor students through scholarships to be able to travel to such an amazing country to study such unique and fun classes so that these students can further their education, and broaden their horizons. It truly is a life changing experience. I am so thankful for my family for all of their support and help while I was away in Italy. I am ever so blessed with such amazing experiences this semester has provided. Thank you to all who have and still continue to follow these students’ stories on this neat, little blog. It means something special to know that there’s people out there who care about what we students are doing, learning, and experiencing in another country. I’m forever grateful for all the things I’ve learned, and the lessons this semester has taught me (socially, educationally, and emotionally). What an incredible opportunity this has been. I will always cherish these memories for as long as I live.

Grazie mille tutti & ciao ciao!


Ciao Kalispell!

This week in Venice Mother Nature greets us with many rays of sunshine and blue skies, as we get ready to head back home to America. Coming back from touring Florence and all the small towns along the way has been exciting yet sad. We had grown accustomed to our daily vaporetto rides, our excruciating yet enjoyable four hours of Italian class, and our usual pasta and pizza meals due to the fact that it was the easiest meal we could afford to make as broke college students. As foreigners in a new country my roommates and I developed close friendships during our attempts to integrate ourselves into the Italian culture. Our friendship grew stronger with each struggle that came our way. We relied on each other every time we forgot how to speak most of the Italian language while asking for directions or buying groceries. We learned how to use a European washer by experimenting with the control panel and found ourselves missing simple household items such as a dryer every time we rung out our wet clothes. Unfortunately, there was no WIFI in our apartment throughout most of our stay, which made it difficult to communicate or finish schoolwork, but on the upside it did force us to converse with one another and get to know each other on a deeper level. We laughed at all the technicalities around our apartment that we were unaccustomed to and found ourselves lost within all the mazelike alleyways of Venice, but we enjoyed every moment of it. When we finally went on tour I was excited to get away from Venice, but I never realized that once we returned we would be approaching the end of this Italian excursion. While on tour we encountered many castles, museums, and churches. We stepped into the island where Napoleon had been exiled, Isola d’Elba. We climbed up the never stairs of the Basilica in Florence to find a beautiful view of the city and explored castles that had been built in the middle ages by European nobility. Once we arrived back into Venice I felt a wave of shock. I couldn’t believe how fast this trip had passed and how many close friendships I had made on this trip. Although this journey may have ended, the great memories and friendships will always remain with me.


The program has now come to an end I couldn’t be more happy looking back on our progression. We went from being physically and socially lost in Venice to being able to navigate the winding streets day and night as well as hold conversations in Italian.

Leaving Venice I am going to miss many things. My friend Vanna, a 90 year old woman who I met one day when I was lost and instantly became friends with. She only spoke Italian. I would come into her place of work, a snack bar near my house, and we would chat.

In addition I’m going to miss the liveliness of Venice and the diverse people she attracts. I’m going to miss Saint Mark’s Basilica at night. One of my favorite views. The lights in the square turn on and reflect off the gold mosaics and there is no one around. I pull up a chair from the patio of a nearby restaurant and enjoy the silence which can only be found at night.

I am so grateful for this semester abroad and all the great teachers who made it their personal mission to make sure we learned and succeeded. Thank you to everyone: those who read the blog and followed along, those who support the trip financially in order to create scholarships, our teachers and directors, and Venice!! And a special special thanks to Suzan, for all her amazing qualities that make this trip so enjoyable!!