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Global Engagement

If you’ve ever dreamed of studying in Italy, you’re in luck! The University’s Center for Education Abroad has a program just for you. Located just an hour southeast of Florence, the city of Arezzo is steeped in beautiful history, art, architecture, and culture. And now there is even more to celebrate as the Arezzo Lisio Italian Studies program welcomes new Assistant Director Jennifer Barsamian.

As a University student, Barsamian ‘97 attended the Arezzo program in its inaugural year. She hadn’t yet declared a major but was taking an Italian language class and a class on Dante’s Inferno with Professor Donatella Stocchi Perucchio, who was starting the Arezzo program. Barsamian was encouraged to apply and the rest, she says, is history! In fact, Barsamian loved the program so much, she attended every spring semester from her sophomore through senior year. (This was before students were limited to the number of semesters they could study abroad.)

She would graduate, go on to earn her Masters degree in Italian Language and Culture, and found her calling as an Italian language teacher. She taught in high school for 17 years, forming an exchange program with Liceo Vittoria Colonna – a linguistic high school in Italy – and has since traveled with dozens of students back to Arezzo.

She shares, “Aside from the fact that Arezzo is known for its great art and architecture, the size, location, people and history of Arezzo are what make it special. You can go back and see things several times and really learn and admire the work. It becomes your environment and you are surrounded by beauty 24/7. You are also a short train ride from Florence or Rome, which can bring you to anywhere in Italy and Europe.”

When asked how the Arezzo program contributes to making our students better global citizens, Barsamian explained, “The fact that Arezzo is not Florence, Rome or any of the larger cities means that students have to assimilate, learn the language and the culture. This makes it a perfect place for them to become better global citizens. It’s very hard to stay in an American bubble in Arezzo. Students are forced to put themselves in the shoes of someone who is just arriving in a country and having to learn everything for the first time.” Her efforts to learn the language and culture built in her a resolve and pride she still carries with her today.

Barsamian has now come full circle, returning to her beloved Arezzo program as a University of Rochester administrator. She is committed to making sure the Arezzo program “continues to be a premier program that is unique to the university, where students are lining up to attend.” She hopes to see the students eager to take advantage of what a study abroad program can do not only for their studies, but for their lives.

“I was recently listening to a podcast with the author of the book, The Power of Regret, by Daniel Pink. In his research of over 16,000 regrets he collected from around the world, the number one education regret from Americans was that they didn’t study abroad. I want to help make sure that doesn’t become a Rochester student’s regret.”
The Arezzo program carries 16 credits and no prior study of Italian is required. Classes are taught in English. Applications are now being accepted for the Spring 2023 program. Learn more here.