An interview with Chris Batchelder, Assistant Site Director in Italy and Senior Student Advisor at CISabroad.
If you called CISabroad in the past year inquiring about studying in Italy, you most likely spoke to Chris Batchelder in the student advising center. He even may have asked, “Do you speak Italian, by chance?” His spirits rise if you do, because he has a clear passion for Italian language and culture. Batchelder keeps his own study abroad experience alive at work.
All his computer and Facebook settings are in Italian. He streams Italian radio stations and watches shows like Breaking Bad in Italian at home. While at work he shares with his colleagues daily a cup of espresso made in his macchinetta or a Moka Express. With such a strong dedication to study abroad and love for Italy it was an easy decision in 2013 for CISabroad to send Batchelder to Italy to support summer study abroad programs. He worked as our assistant to Romina Marchionne, CISabroad Site Director in Italy, and he will be returning for a second time in 2014. We recently asked him a few questions about his experience living and working in a country filled with fine food, wine, and art.
While you are in Italy are you stationed at one site?
“Primarily I am in Florence, but I visit Perugia and Rome. It is easy to travel throughout Italy. Trains and buses are great options. And depending on your budget, you can get there as fast or as slow as you like.”
Everywhere in Italy seems like the best place to study for the summer. How do you help students decide between Florence, Perugia, and Rome?
“Well, it all depends what they are looking to get out of the program. If it’s their first time experiencing a new culture and they are nervous about culture shock, I would recommend Florence because it’s the easiest to get adjusted to. Florence also is perfect for photography and art study abroad. Those looking to live in the “Eternal City” to experience all its history, art and architecture should consider studying abroad in Rome. And for the student who wants to get an immersive experience, surrounded by Italian language and culture, I would recommend studying in “The Green Heart” of Italy and the country’s college town of Perugia.
In your opinion do students change over the course of a summer in Italy?
It depends on the length of time a student studies there. The longer the student stays the better. A visible confidence in how to move around the city and use the public services make them more confident as travelers. I recommend that students invest more time in Italy, so they gain the most they can from their summer study abroad program. If students really want to broaden their deep culture and connect with Italy as a host country I recommend students study for a semester in Italy. And a summer in Italy could be a fantastic springboard for a semester in Italy.”
What advice do you have for future student who want to study abroad in Italy?
“SO much. In Florence, go to Le Cappelle Medicee to get the best coffee and pasta for lunch at an affordable price. Take advantage of all the excursions and other local opportunities to dig into the culture and return with fond memories.”
What steps can students take to overcome the language barrier before they leave?
There are very simple ways to prepare. Hop onto YouTube and learn some helpful phrases like, vorrei un caffe, figurati! Or sono cotto/a di te.
Last question, Chris, what are you most looking forward to this summer in Italy with CISabroad?
“Definitely the excursions and the best butcher experience. Where we go to the Chianti region and we get to meet a butcher who is really passionate and cognisant of his practices. It was the BEST food I’ve ever consumed. EVER. And the thought of returning is astounding. Also, I really liked the first-hand perspective we get at the Sant’ambrogio market.
A presto! – See you soon in Italy!
Chris Batchelder studied abroad in Italy for both a spring and summer semester abroad. He attended Keene State College and began working for CISabroad in 2012.
Have you studied in Italy or know somebody that has? Please share any advice on what to do, where to eat, etc. by leaving a comment below!