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Dan & Christine DePersisDan & Christine DePersis

Hometown: Guilderland, NY
Student's Name: Christian DePersis (FFE 2010-2011)
What was your initial reaction after discovering the Freshman Florence Experience (FFE)?
We knew it was a perfect fit for Christian. He had taken 4 years of Italian in high school and he loved our trip to Italy when we toured and visited family there in '06. It was almost like he was groomed to be a part of this program.
What were some of your concerns about sending your child to the Florence branch campus?
All the typical parent concerns about having children go to college -- sitting in with other students, adjusting to college life, health issues -- but now heightened because he would be in a foreign country so far away. We were also concerned about his safety and well-being while traveling in foreign countries and about how he would balance his studies with all the time spent traveling and sight-seeing.
How did you arrive at the conclusion that the FFE would be the best option for your child? What were the contributing factors?
We decided at the FFE program presentation at one of the accepted students days while visiting Marist in the spring. The presentation was excellent, including students who had experienced it in the past. Ultimately, it was Christian's decision; but we were fairly convinced he was going to choose the FFE program.
What steps did you take to help prepare your child for this experience?
We found the FFE staff and their recommendations very helpful. We discussed: laundry, cooking, packing, how to carry valuables in crowds, and safe travel techniques. Together we opened an ATM card account and discussed budgeting. We also purchased an international phone with three cards (Italy, Europe, USA) and a laptop computer. We had the advantage of family living near Rome.
How did you communicate with your child during his/her time in Florence?
We used Skype mainly. Occasionally, Christian would call us with his international cell phone.
What is your favorite memory or story from your child’s experience?
Many of our American family toured Italy and visited our Italian family with Christian in May when he finished his second semester. Listening to Christian speak Italian so fluently and having him act as our tour guide was priceless!
How has this program affected your child? What have they gained? How have they grown?
Successful completion of this experience is a considerable confidence booster! It helps to develop independent thinking and behavior. These students lived and studied within a world renowned historical and cultural setting rather than just reading about it. The program allowed time for extensive travel. They learned invaluable, practical life experiences (living in an apartment with others, having to cook, clean, and do laundry along with developing time management skills--coordinating studying, sight-seeing, and leisure time activities). This is a great college program!
What advice would you give prospective families who are considering enrolling their student in the FFE?
Visit Marist and attend the FFE introduction program. Talk to the staff and the students who speak about the experience. Have the prospective participant meet the FFE students and meet other prospective students considering the experience.