Studying Abroad in Milan with Caitlyn Gemma '17

April 14, 2016

Caitlin Gemma

Caitlyn filled us in on the benefits of studying abroad in Italy - and the most exciting part of her trip thus far!

What courses are you taking? How is this program related to your interests in business and marketing?

I’m taking my two business electives for my Marketing major in the Simmons School of Management. I am taking Business Plans for Startups and Managing Fashion and Luxury Companies as my business electives. I am also taking an Advanced Italian class and a Culture and Cuisine class that are both in Italian.

Are you staying with a host family or with other students? How many other students are in the program?

I am living with three other American students and one Italian student. The Italian student is a community assistant who helps us adjust to life in Italy, and also helped us get around for the first few weeks. There are 110 students in my program, IES Abroad Milano.

Are you working or do you have an internship during your study abroad?

I do not have an internship abroad, however I teach English once a week to two five-year-old Italian boys who have never learned English before. It may be the most difficult work I’ve experienced in my life!

How have these courses related back to your time so far at Simmons?


Everything that I have learned in all my Management classes from freshman year up until last semester apply to both of my business courses. Although my courses here are not specific to marketing, everything that you learn can be applied to new course material and real world applications. For example, my Business Plans for Startups course requires the knowledge of almost every single course that I’ve taken in management in order to compose the business plan. An interesting thing one of my professors told our class was that his Italian students tend to think more theoretically, while American students think of real-world applications and solutions for problems. 

What has been the most challenging part of this semester?

The most challenging part of this semester has been fully immersing myself into the culture and perfecting my Italian. Since this is an American program, I spend my time with American students during the school week, so I would love to return to Italy one day and take courses at an Italian university with locals.

Milan, Italy

What has been the most exciting part? 

The most exciting part of my semester has been country-hopping all around Europe. I have taken advantage of the cheap airfare and convenient travel, and by the end of the semester I will have traveled to eight different countries! Experiencing all the different cultures of Europe has been eye-opening. This experience has changed the vision for what I see myself doing in the future and has inspired me to keep traveling. If any Simmons student is on the fence about studying abroad, I highly recommend to go for it, because these experiences last a lifetime!

How do you think this experience will help with your future at Simmons and at your internship this summer?

This summer, I’ll be working as a Product Development Intern at Genscape in Boston. They are an international company, and, due to my experiences abroad, I hope to bring many new ideas and solutions to them. My semester abroad will help me approach my classes at Simmons with a different mind-set and will help me to think on an international and cross-cultural level.

Has this experience helped you grow in any way, academically or personally?

Academically, this experience has inspired me to continue my education after I graduate from Simmons in other countries in order to understand the way people think in different parts of the world. Personally, this experience has inspired me to travel more and embrace different cultures. I have become more independent, open-minded, stepped out of my comfort zone, and discovered new interests of mine.