Milan Exchange Students Discuss Semester Abroad

Photo courtesy of Jarrod Garcia

On August 31, Ramapo welcomed three students from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy: Carolina Ruffino, Chiara Rimo and Natalia Pantaleoni. Since then, they have been adjusting to life on campus, sightseeing along the East Coast and getting used to some local Mahwah wildlife – literally.

“In Milan, we don’t have deer, squirrels, groundhogs or bears on our campus. We were surprised by all the wildlife here,” said Ruffino.

The students, who are set to graduate from their university in the spring, enjoyed their time at Ramapo as well as their courses. Pantaleoni, a Foreign Languages and Business Economics major, liked Creative Advertising and Public Relations the most. Rimo, who majors in Foreign Languages and International Management, chose International Studies as her favorite. And although she studies journalism, Ruffino found her Writing for Public Relations class to be the most useful, inspiring her to continue exploring that field. All three have a passion for travel and hope to work for international companies in the future.

“We had a great experience,” said Rimo. “It was nice being on a smaller campus – it made it easier to meet new people. We got to know students from a lot of different cultures. They were very friendly and really interested in where we came from.”

While on campus Ruffino, Rimo and Pantaleoni missed the vibrant city life of Milan so they took the opportunity to see everything New York had to offer. They went to Radio City Music Hall, the Empire State Building, Central Park and saw the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. Ruffino checked out a Knicks game and even ventured into Brooklyn and Harlem. Pantaleoni, along with her brothers and friends from Italy, traveled to Boston and Washington, D.C.

“I noticed how big everything is here,” Pantaleoni said. “The malls, the cars, even the plates. Everything is big, compared to Italy.”

Another thing they noticed about New Jersey: everyone’s penchant for fitness.

“Everyone goes to the gym, so we started going,” Rimo said.

While the others went to the gym, Ruffino joined an intramural volleyball league, playing two nights a week.  

The girls encourage U.S. students to study abroad in Milan. They cited the city’s museums and energetic art scene in addition to its reputation as being Italy’s fashion capitol – with fashion events happening constantly. They also pointed out Milan’s numerous clubs and restaurants.

“Milan is like a little New York,” Rimo said. “It’s a great city for young people and there’s a lot to see. The transportation system is really good. From Milan, you have access to so many other parts of Europe.”

“Students should definitely study abroad,” Ruffino said. “For me, it’s all about visiting new places. It’s a good way to break out of your comfort zone and you learn a lot about yourself.”

Students interested in the exchange program to Italy can visit:

The exchange program is a more affordable way to study abroad as you pay Ramapo tuition and only housing to your host institution as well as travel and personal expenses.

For more information on studying abroad, students can contact the Roukema Center in ASB-123, email or visit