Study abroad heads to Florence

Faith Gates

A simple, yet amazing concept: going to another country to live and learn for a whole semester. And the best part – everyone can do it.

In spring of 2014, Jan. 25 – April 25, Santa Rosa Junior College students have the opportunity to live and go to school in Florence, Italy.

SRJC theater arts teacher Wendy Wisely will take students to Florence this spring. She gave an informational presentation about the Florence trip and future ones Oct. 14.

SRJC students will travel with students from three other colleges: College of San Mateo, Sacramento City College and Diablo Valley College.

Students live in a apartment while taking 12-15 units of classes taught by Wisely and three professors from the other colleges.

Students are required to take the INTDIS 90: Study Abroad Life, Culture and Language class. Wisely also teaches Theatre Arts I: World Theatre, Theatre Arts 2: Introduction to Theatre Arts and Media 10: Film Appreciation.

“If you’re even thinking of going, get your passport now, or maybe wait till the offices are open again, and just look at it. It’ll make you want to go,” she said.

Any SRJC student 18 years or older who has completed 12 units by spring and has a cumulative GPA of 2.25 is eligible.

SRJC student Christine Holmberg has wanted to go for a long time now. “I told myself I wanted to study abroad, I just had to wait until all my kids were through college,” Holmberg said. She plans to travel while on the Florence trip.

The academic facility is the AIFS Peruzzi Center and ABC Language School in the heart of Florence near Piazza Santa Croce.

“Everything is walking distance; it’s about the size of Sebastopol,” said SRJC English teacher Bob Duxbury, who went to Florence twice before.

The students share flats with four other people located around town, but not too far from class. “Everyone can get to class in less than 20 minutes, depending on how much gelato you stop for,” Wisely said.

Classes are only Monday through Thursday, leaving Friday-Sunday to sight-see. “Get lost in a city where you fall and trip over history,” Wisely said.

If students are worried because they don’t know Italian, that shouldn’t be a problem. In the mandatory INTDIS 90 class, students learn “survival” Italian. “There are classes that will be teaching you Italian and the people are so open to tourists. Also, charades will take you a long way in Italy,” Wisely said.

“I’ve been learning Italian for 5 years for this,” Holmberg said.

It costs $7,695 to go. This includes a flat, the first night stay in a hotel room and taxi ride to destination, a half-hour walking tour and reception, weekly programs and cultural activities, and an unlimited pass to Uffizi Gallery, Accademia, Bargello, Pitti Palace, San Marco Museum, Medici Chapel and others.

Also included is a fully staffed student office providing information, personal counseling and 24-hour emergency contact service.

Not included in the $7,695 cost are flights, meals, personal expenses, textbooks, class registration fees and insurance. There is also a $450 deposit due with the application and a $250 refundable damage deposit.

There is an optional airfare package available from AIFS, but the price is yet to be determined. Also an optional meal plan for $545 that includes 30 vouchers for either lunch or dinner in local trattoria in Florence. There is also an optional European Pre-Program Tour from Jan. 21-Jan 26 going all around Paris and London for $995. For additional fees they can also arrange weekend trips for a group.

Wisely said including all expenses it should cost about $10,000 minimum to $12,000 comfortably, but there are scholarships. There is the Ruth Parle Craig Study Abroad Scholarship, one $800 scholarship, the Ava and Sam Guerrera Study Abroad Scholarship, two $2,200 scholarship and the AIFS Scholarship, $500-$1,00 scholarships. The deadline to apply for these is Oct. 31. The applications can be found on the SRJC website at

Florence students only can apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a scholarship up to $5,000. The deadline to apply for the scholarship was Oct. 1, but it will be available next year. Priority deadline for the Florence trip was Oct. 4, but late applications will be accepted on a daily basis until Oct. 28.

SRJC will be going again in the summer to Chile. It will be from June 12 to July 25 and cost $4,445 plus additional fees. Geology teacher Rebecca Perlroth and history teacher Danielle Brunns will be taking this group.
The application deadline is Mar. 7, 2014.

Looking even further into the future in fall 2014 SRJC will be going to Paris, France with film and media teacher Mike Traina from Sept. 7 to Dec. 5, 2014. In spring 2015
history teacher Andre LaRue will take a group to Florence, Italy with dates to be determined.