Pirates Abroad: Alexandra Parris

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    IES Farewell Dinner, Milan, Italy -Photo by A. Parris

Alexandra Parris (IES - Milan, Italy, Summer 2012) completed an online questionnaire, reflecting on her study abroad experience …

Alexandra Parris, a Senior Studio Art major, studied abroad in Milan, Italy during the summer 2012 term through IES.  During this seven-week program, Alex took Beginning Italian and Social Innovation, as well as focused on cultural immersion through cultural activities and excursions to such locations as Lake Maggiore and Cinque Terre.

Motivation for studying abroad: I’m minoring in Anthropology so learning about different cultures is very interesting to me.  I’m an Art major though, so I also wanted to be able to see a lot of European art and architecture.

Excursion to Lago Maggiore, Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore, Italy -Photo by A. ParrisExcursion to Lago Maggiore, Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore, Italy -Photo by A. Parris

Did your experience meet your expectations: YES.  It met my expectations and more.  I didn’t see as much art as I planned on doing, mostly because I was kind of just living there and doing things.  It’s like how you never see the tourist sites in the city where you live.


Would you recommend participation in this program to other Southwestern students: I would recommend this SO VERY HIGHLY.  The people who work there are amazing and lovely.

Are there any special suggestions that you wish to pass on to other Southwestern students: Don’t just go looking for a vacation.  You’ll have fun, but you won’t get very much out of it.  I wasn’t the best at it, but try to put yourself out there.  It’s worth it.

What did you learn (one sentence): I learned that no matter where you are in the world, people are people.

Other comments: Please recommend this program to anyone looking to go to Italy!Evening at the opera, Teatro della Scala, Milan, Italy -Photo by A. ParrisEvening at the opera, Teatro della Scala, Milan, Italy -Photo by A. Parris  Milan is a great city because it’s more business-oriented.  The public transportation is relatively effective and there AREN’T too many tourists which allows you to learn more about the city.

What were your favorite local foods and beverages: Every sandwich is delicious.  It’s usually some variant on ham and cheese.  The pizza is divine.  Eat all the bread and cheese you can.  The Nutella is better there.  If you see mozzarella di bufala on a menu (usually an appetizer), GET IT.  It is unbearably fresh mozzarella cheese.

Did you have any humorous (or embarrassing) experiences with cultural (or linguistic) differences: DON’T USE THE WORD PRESERVATIVES (as in food).  It didn’t happen to me, but my community assistant told me that a girl did once in a restaurant.  Preservatives means condoms in Italian … so just don’t make that mistake!