Jonathan Boyden: My Chance to Bring Home the Gold

Happy New Year everyone!

Let’s begin 2013 by getting to know one of our fundraisers – Jonathan Boyden – who is in the process of raising funds for his trip to Florence, Italy.

Discover how passionate he is with Italian culture and what drives him to pursue his dream to study in this lovely Italian city.

  •   How will study abroad affect you as a person?

I believe that studying abroad will force me to learn more about myself. Initially, I expect the new environment to rattle me in such a way that it causes me to take note of how I operate as a person in order to blend in my new surroundings. Learning even more specific qualities about myself will enrich the way I can contribute to the world, because I will have an even stronger awareness of myself. I also strongly believe that studying in Florence will shine light on things I take for granted in America. I don’t know what those things are or possibly will be, but I am extremely excited to find out what they are. I love working with people, and living life with people in a completely different setting will sharpen my interpersonal skills. It will increase my versatility in interacting with people across many cultural contexts.

  • Why did you choose Italy?

When first thinking about countries to visit, Italy just came to mind. It was literally that simple. I thought of other countries such as London, Spain, or Brazil, but there was something enchanting about Italy. And to be honest, it wasn’t anything I can articulate. Growing up, I had a close friend who was half Italian, and the stories she told about her Italian grandfather captured me. I can’t recount specific qualities, but I know the culmination of those stories had to do with passion being his way of life. I think that is one factor that kept me pressing towards choosing to study in Italy. I study acting in school, and in my third year of college, an Italian acting instructor joined the faculty. Her zestful, joyous approach to theater piqued my interest even more about people in Italy. Even though I consider myself a passionate person, I want to immerse myself in Italian zeal. I desire to soak it up as fuel in contributing to those around me. I also want to experience the concept of a siesta, which was mind boggling to me as a native Chicagoan when I first heard of it. Considering all of these things increased my interest even more to studying abroad in Italy.

  • What preparations are you making for this trip?

I am reading information and watching videos about Italy to get a better grasp of their history, culture, and customs. I don’t know enough of the Italian language to hold a decent conversation in Italian yet, but I am learning some basics to give myself a good foundation. I will live with an Italian family who speaks little English, so having a foundation of basic concepts in the Italian will help me. Another important thing I am doing is just preparing myself mentally. I want to have the right attitude when I travel to and live in Italy, and I think openness is the best way. I am reminding myself that feeling completely lost at times will be part of the journey, and that I should not be surprised when those occasions arise. I am preparing myself to stay open to taking risk and making mistakes, because launching myself into new experiences and learning from my mistakes will incite much growth.

  • What are you most excited about for this trip?

There are so many things I’m excited about pertaining to my trip! Since I have to boil it down to one, I think everything I am excited about can be wrapped up in my looking forward to living life with different people outside of my comfort zone. I am so excited to see what kinds of things people in Italy are passionate about, and to see how they view family life and their work/life balance. I am excited to learn the Italian language so I can speak to Italians in their language since I will be in their homeland. I am excited that I won’t just read about these things in a book or watch them in videos. I am excited about creating unforgettable memories.


Jonathan is a theater-performance student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He will study the Italian language through CAPA International Education while in Florence, Italy. 



  1. Great post Jonathan.. Most students restrict themselves to US, UK, Canada and Australia which are the typical choices for students. However there are other countries as well which have a very good education system and offer a wonderful learning experience. they are more affordable as well. Am sure you did not regret your choice to study in Italy!!

  2. Nice post Jonathan !!! I can agree with I learnt my life after I completed my MBA in Italy and overseas education really helped me to learn learn to pursue in my life and career as well.

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