Students hang out in the shade in Urbino, Italy, in spring 2018. Photo by Kennedy DeRaedt
Students hang out in the shade in Urbino, Italy, in spring 2018. Photo by Kennedy DeRaedt

Once in a lifetime: My semester in Urbino, Italy

By Kennedy DeRaedt, senior in advertising

In 50 years, I will remember the beautiful exterior walls of Urbino, but will I remember the small details like how the older Italian women dressed or how we played cards on the weekends?

There are so many cultural aspects and personal memories I want to stick with me forever. Some experiences I had abroad I know might never happen again. Everything I got to do in Urbino was so amazing, and I want the memories to stay fresh in my mind.

In my opinion, the chances of partaking in something great increase after crossing into Italy. In one week, I had class in a palace, saw an Italian symphony, learned how to make truffle pasta, went to the coast and saw a famous photographer’s exhibition in a nearby city. And, as part of the Urbino program, I got to experience these adventures with 11 other Iowa State students. However, each of us have our own opinion on what makes Urbino special.

One thing that is easy to notice in Urbino is the Italian culture. Life is definitely different there compared to America. Sophomore Krishaun Burns noticed how Italians use their umbrellas when it snows. We always joked about how we will notice each other across Central Campus in the winter because we will be the only Iowa State students using our umbrellas.

two people with umbrellas walk in the snow
A cultural difference between Americans and Italians is carrying umbrellas when it snows. "We don't do that in the U.S., but it's so smart," says Krishaun Burns. Photo by Krishaun Burns.

Another difference between the American and Italian culture is the personality of the people in general. Advertising major Audrey Comer thinks the Italian people are lively, friendly and easygoing. Because Urbino is a small community, it is easy to see familiar faces around town. Junior Gillian Holte loved seeing her friend Tita around town. “It’s cool to make that connection with someone who is not where you’re from,” she said.

Some of our favorite memories happened after the sun went down, or in Makenna Chapman’s case, when the sun went up. “I was in good company,” she said. “It was really peaceful.”

purple and orange sunrise with a golden retriever
Good friends, a dog and the sunrise over Urbnio are the perfect combination to form a favorite memory. "It was cool to see Urbino silent. It was really peaceful," Makenna Chapman said. Photo by Gillian Holte

Most of us did not know each other before we started the semester in Urbino, but now it seems we have created lifelong friendships.

Sophomore Maureen McDonald never wants to forget screaming the soundtrack of "Hamilton" late at night with her roommates Gillian and Bridget. “I have made a lot of long-lasting friends whom I can see myself connecting with when we go back to Ames,” she said.

three female students toast outdoors
Maureen McDonald (middle) gives a toast at a class lunch in Urbania on March 29, 2018. Her favorite part of the Urbino program is making life-long friends. Photo by Kennedy DeRaedt

Studying at Università degli Studi di Urbino was much different than studying at Iowa State. Rachel Cessna enjoyed getting gelato every day between classes. All of us talked about how much we would miss certain Italian foods when we returned home.

three college women holding cones filled with yellow gelato
Katlyn Campbell, Morgan Johnson and Krishaun Burns enjoy gelato on a sunny day in Urbino. Photo by Kennedy DeRaedt

A cool thing about studying in Urbino is seeing buildings and artwork from the medieval and Renaissance times. Comer said something unique about studying in Urbino was, “knowing you are where history happened.” Most of our classes focused on the history of the Renaissance, and we got to see where famous painters lived and where the Duke of Urbino held parties. It definitely beats looking at pictures in a textbook.

students gather around a female professor outside the Roman Colosseum
With the Urbino program, class is where history happened. In art history, the class learned about Roman arches and the three different types of columns in Rome. Photo by Kennedy DeRaedt

Studying in Urbino not only gave us the experience of living in Italy, but also a great way to meet new people and do new things. Italy has captured all of our hearts, and I know we will all look back on this time as one of the best experiences in our lives.



Kennedy DeRaedt is an advertising major at Iowa State University. She has worked with the Iowa State Daily, Trend and SIR magazine. After graduation, she hopes to go into photography or art direction.







This post is one in a series of blog posts written by Iowa State University students who studied abroad in Urbino, Italy, in spring 2018 with Deni Chamberlin, Greenlee School associate professor. The program focuses on mobile image making, Italian language, Renaissance art history and literature and the history of food and culture. The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication will offer the program in collaboration with LAS Study Abroad in spring 2020.