My name is Mauro Bagnariol, and I recently graduated Cum Laude from FIU with a BA in International Relations (Double Major in International Relations and Political Science). The paths that led me to the European Studies Certificate program are twofold: My father is Italian, & thus, holding Italian citizenship, my areas of interest have gravitated toward European themed topics. Also, a big wish of mine once I began my time at FIU was to participate in a study abroad program. Much to my delight and fortune, the Genoa, Italy Study Abroad program debuted in the summer of 2011. Participation in this program allowed me to take courses in Italy that would count toward the earning of my European Studies Certificate, and also to fulfill my desire of studying overseas while soaking up the local culture. The Genoa Study Abroad program, in particular, was designed to encourage students to mingle with the locals and to live like a local. There were 15 other students who participated in the program. We were divided accordingly and paired up as roommates. My month in Genoa in this program is an experience that I will never forget. Spending an entire month in a country like Italy, studying European history and Italian history with Italian professors, while also indulging in the routines of a local, going grocery shopping for Genoese ingredients, and later cooking at my apartment and having my other group members over for dinner, is but one of the many very cherished memories from my time there. As part of the official program itinerary, we visited hubs of the Italian economy, such as Turin, which is the home of the Italian automotive industry, home to FIAT, and also visited Milan, one of the most important design capitals of the world. As a bonus, our group had the opportunity to visit a Milanese designer and the people inside were gracious enough to give their time to explain how the industry as a whole works, the importance of the Italian fashion industry and Italian design as a whole, and how it contributes greatly to the Italian economy and how its creativity and ingenuity has influence in other countries. During our free time, my group mates and I did weekend excursions and visited Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa, and several other smaller cities. Renting bikes in the city of Lucca (on the advice of one of my group mates), and cycling around the city walls while taking in the Tuscan countryside still, to this day, remains one of the best memories of my time spent in Italy. It is not hyperbole to say that doing a program like this will change your perspective on life, broaden your horizons immensely and make you a much more well-rounded person. Upon returning to Miami, I knew I most definitely wanted to take more courses in European area studies to further expand my knowledge of the continent, its history and politics. The European Studies Certificate program has allowed me to do the aforementioned; to realize my dream of studying in a foreign country, as well as connecting more with my Italian roots. I very highly recommend any student to consider participating in the Genoa Study Abroad program and to pair it with a European Studies Certificate. You will be all the more enriched by having done so, both as an individual and academically. All the very best to everyone on their paths in school and in life!