There is so much to learn from Illini that have studied abroad, but there is just as much to learn from students that are currently studying abroad at U of I. Filippo Galli, an Italian exchange student from the University of Birmingham in the UK, is spending a year at Illinois and was excited to share his study abroad experiences in the U.S.
Filippo is originally from Riccione, Italy, a small town about two hours south of Venice, but has been studying computer science at the University of Birmingham since his freshman year of college. “Studying abroad in Birmingham was my first choice because their native language is English and I wanted to improve on the language. They are also known for their high level of education so that was a factor too.”
When Filippo was offered the opportunity to study abroad in America he said, “Absolutely, why not?” There were a lot of options available to Filippo when it came to studying abroad in America, but he ultimately chose Illinois because of the tuition and its Computer Science program. “Illinois was a cheaper option for me and I was able to put the money I saved toward other things, like traveling”. Filippo got the chance to travel during Thanksgiving break by driving to Orlando, Florida and spending time at Disney World. “The drive to Florida was long but it was nice because I got the chance to see all kinds of different scenery. I plan to travel more while I’m here, but it’s more difficult and expensive than in Europe.”
Filippo has gotten very active on campus since his arrival in August. He’s played intermural soccer as well as joined a photography club and a fraternity. “I decided to join a fraternity because I thought it was the most American thing I could do and it’s helped me to learn from a different perspective as well as meet new people.”
Living in America has understandably been an adjustment for Filippo. There have been things that he’s had to get used to, from the fast-paced American lifestyle to the differing fashion styles. “I’m used to casually eating lunch with friends for hours at a time, but when you eat a meal at a restaurant in America you’re in and out in about an hour. It’s very strange to me.”
Having studied abroad twice, Filippo believes learning in different countries is a rewarding opportunity for students. “It keeps me thinking and growing as a person and constantly opens my mind to new things.” Filippo had some important advice to give students who are planning on studying abroad. “Get to know other cultures. The best thing you can do is distance yourself from people that you’re familiar with. I’ve learned and grown so much by doing new things and meeting different people. Spend time with people from different countries and get to know the locals wherever you go. Your experience will be so much more rewarding and meaningful because of it.”