Lebanon Valley College Study Abroad

Parents Abroad

Spending four months living in an entirely new city, immersing yourself into an unfamiliar culture and engaging in a foreign experience abroad should be on the top of everyone’s to do list. Luckily, I’ve had the chance to embrace that livelihood. Spending this time abroad has opened my eyes to new adventure, my mind to a different understanding and surely made me wish that everyone I love could experience these same thing.

Theresa exploring Rome with Colin Albright and parents Gina and Mike.

Theresa exploring Rome with Colin Albright and parents Gina and Mike.

Since my arrival, my parents have been living vicariously through my pictures, Facetime chats and stories i’ve shared with them. To all of our excitement though, last week they no longer had to do that as they traveled thousands of miles across the ocean to visit me in my new, lovely, home away from home.

They’re lovers of Italian food, history and interested in culture, but what they weren’t big fans of were the hill top cities I trudged them through! On Friday, they arrived in Rome where I met them at the train station. We spent the day exploring a residential part of town, and when we weren’t out and about, my father always found time to rest his eyes sitting in almost any position. On Saturday, we adventured into ancient Rome where we explored the city that most definitely was not built in a day. Although beautiful and full of wonderful history, there was some competition for the most favorable city on their list.

Parents Gina and Mike at the Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy.

Parents Gina and Mike at the Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy.

Sunday we traveled to Perugia where I was able to show them around the hilltop city that is full of beautiful views and countless charming features. We checked out some of my favorite food places, hangout spots and aspects of everyday life. Later in the week, we took a trip to Florence and Assisi. Both admirable, but Assisi truly did steal my father’s heart.

Hanging out in front of the Colosseum.

Hanging out in front of the Colosseum.

Parents abroad is such an amazing thing to experience while studying in a new country. Not only did I get a little taste of home, some treats from the States, and loaded my parents with things to take back with them, but I got to introduce my favorite people to many of my new favorite things, and that is something I will cherish forever. Now not only will I share stories of my study abroad trip, I will share memories that will last with us forever.

With 18 days left in this amazing country, I have to admit that I’m sad to be leaving but excited to be returning to the people and places that I have missed so much.

Theresa M

Fear of Missing Out

Despite the beautiful views, hundreds of pictures and indescribable experiences, I always have that feeling that I’m missing out on something. That “something” is essentially everything that’s happening at home while I’m away. As my junior homecoming quickly approaches and festivities kick off, I really don’t think there’s any place I would rather be. Of course, I love being in Italy and it is absolutely amazing here, but there are a few things I would trade to be able to spend this specific weekend at home.

Now when I think about it, I know that this feeling is just temporary. As I scroll through social media and realize that i’m not experiencing all of these amazing things at home with my friends, I then think to myself… “wait, but i’m in Italy”. Sure, i’m missing homecoming, but I’m spending my weekend adventuring around the next beautiful city that I decide to explore. This weekend happens to be Venice, and I get to spend the time with some of my favorite people.

There’s a few other things I miss about home…

Not paying for water:

Every time I go out to dinner, I can’t just expect to get water for free. It’s usually about $3.00 for a large fancy glass bottle. Even though I’ve been here for a month, it’s still tough getting used to that.

My car:

Public transportation isn’t the worst thing in the world, I’ve actually adjusted to it quite well. Even though it’s easy to navigate, there’s times that I wish I could just get in my car and go instead of having to wait for the next bus to come around!


Yes, football. I miss listening to people yell at the tv, going to football games, football season, the atmosphere and everything that comes along with it. With that being said, Happy Homecoming Weekend at the Valley!


Until next time,

30 Days

Thirty whole days have gone by since I’ve been home and I’ve found out that a lot can happen in thirty days…

We spent our first night in a hotel where we met our roommates. From that moment on, the memories, challenges and excitement began! Over the past four weekends, I’ve traveled around Italy and have even been out of the county to experience one of Germany’s largest festivals.

The start of my adventure: 
During the first week, the Umbra Institute provided us with four days of Intensive Italian so that we would become comfortable and more familiar with the language. They also provided us with a delicious night of pizza at a local restaurant. The rest of the week was full of exploring the beautiful city of Perugia, and attempting to remember the names of the other 90 students at Umbra!

First Italian Pizza

First Italian Pizza

Monday morning rolled around and all of our traditional classes started for the semester. It was exciting to get back into the swing of school, but I wouldn’t mind being in Italy to study Italian and spend the rest of my time exploring the culture. At the end of  the week, I went on my first excursion and visited the beautiful Firenze. Sights like this are unimaginable, and no picture could ever do the view justice.

View from the Duomo in Florence

View from the Duomo in Florence

“Family” dinners, school, traveling and memory book club are what occupy most of my time during the week. Surprisingly enough, every time my friends and I get together for dinner, we always end up cooking some type of traditional American food. Stove top burgers has been our favorite meal so far! At the end of the week, my favorite person and I decided to take a weekend trip to see the beautiful Italian Coast. On our way to Cinque Terre, we stopped in Pisa to take the cliché leaning tower picture of course. While at the beaches in Cinque Terre, we were able to visit four out of the five towns and it was amazing. The sights were beautiful, and it was so easily to float in the water!

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Hanging out, holding up the leaning tower!

Hanging out, holding up the leaning tower!

The next week consisted of the usual: Breathtaking views of Perugia, attempting to understand Italian and eating a whole lot of food. The weekend on the other hand may be my favorite part of my entire study abroad trip so far! Colin and I traveled with the company Bus2Alps to Munich, Germany where we spent our weekend camping and attending the opening days of Oktoberfest! On Friday, we spent our day on a bike tour through Munich learning about the history and current customs of Germans. The bike tour wrapped up with a nice downpour and soaking wet clothing! On Saturday, we traveling to the festival (still raining mind you) in our lederhosen and dirndls! The best part was that we were in the Shottenhamel tent where the opening ceremonies were held. At noon, the kegs were tapped and we were served the Oktoberfest beer of the Shottenhamel beer tent! On Sunday, we stopped at the Dachau concentration camp to visit an important piece of history. The weekend in whole was amazing and although it consisted of long bus rides and cold, rainy weather, I wouldn’t have wanted the experience to be any different.

Celebrating at Oktoberfest!

Celebrating at Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest Camping!

Oktoberfest Camping!

While I will have so much to share about my time abroad, that’s all for now. Over the next few weeks I’ll be spending more time traveling and taking advantage of every exciting opportunity that is offered to me.

– Theresa Messenger

10 Tips for Future Travelers

10 Tips for Future Travelers:

1) Don’t Stress

Traveling can be stressful. There is so much involved: purchasing tickets, packing, catching flights, language barriers etc. But these things are all part of the journey, and stressing will only make things worse. Relax! Embrace the chaos; it can be fun. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to. Missed a train? Find the next one. Forgot to pack something? Buy it at a local store. Lost? Ask a local for directions. Sometimes mistakes can lead you to something new and exciting, and that is what traveling is all about!

PS: I also lost a lot of my souvenirs from Italy. I was really upset at first, until I was reminded that they are only material things. I am blessed to have the amazing memories, thousands of pictures, and new friends that will last forever.

2) Blog!

Ten, twenty, thirty years down the road, you will wish you had kept a record of your travels-so start a blog/journal! Write about the people you met, food you ate, and places you’ve seen. Don’t forget to add the best pictures you’ve taken, and be sure to share the entries with your family and friends. It might inspire them to take a trip of their own one day. You can even print the blog out when you’re done and create a book for you and your future children/grandchildren to look through. That’s my plan!

3) Become a pack rat

Keep everything! Every place I’ve been, I have kept receipts, train tickets, brochures, etc. to make a scrapbook when I return. These things are free souvenirs that will last a lifetime. I even kept some newspaper clippings written in Italian and German. I also bought postcards and stamps to make a board about all my travels.

4) Eat anything and everything

If you’re worried about gaining weight on your trip abroad, you’re going to the wrong place! European food is the best food you will ever try. When will you ever live in another country for 3 months again? Never, so take advantage of the great food and drink. Try all the courses and have a dessert or three. I had dessert with almost every meal. Do I regret it? Absolutely not! The pounds will eventually come off, but the opportunity to eat those great dishes again only comes once in a lifetime.

5) Be open-minded

Europe is very different from the United States. The list of differences goes on and on, so it is important to be open-minded! You might not agree with something, but try to see the other side of things. It’s fun to embrace new ideas; it broadens your thinking and makes you a well-rounded individual. I have learned a lot throughout this journey, a lot of new things that I plan to incorporate into my future.

6) Travel outside your comfort zone

Do things you normally wouldn’t think of doing. Be adventurous.   Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t walk, run outside your comfort zone. You don’t want to look back and have regrets-that you coulda-woulda-shoulda done that. Instead, look back and say, “yeah, I did that”.

7) Talk to strangers

I have met so many people who I will stay in touch with forever. I have made connections in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany all offering places for me to stay when I travel abroad again. Strike up a conversation on the train/plane, in line, in a restaurant, on a tour, wherever! Ask them about their culture, places to visit, and recommendations. These connections can be a great help, especially if you ever need help while traveling. I had many queries that people at home would not be able to help with, so I utilized my European connections.

8) Please turn off all cellphones

I was upset when I found out that the Internet capabilities would only be in my apartment/hotels and in restaurants. How would I connect with the rest of the world at every second of every day?? This once horrible situation, turned out to be a true blessing. I was not able to post or send pictures constantly, or update my friends every second about my whereabouts, which was a great thing! I was able to focus on the amazing places/views/experiences around me instead of my phone. I wouldn’t want to look back and regret being on my phone 24/7 instead of enjoying what was around me. So turn off the phone during the day and then update your friends to let them know you’re safe, and to brag about what you’ve done at the end of the day.

9) Look back

You often hear not to look back but instead look forward to what lies ahead. But I would highly recommend physically looking back while you are traveling. Some of the best pictures of amazing views have been taken because I looked back. You don’t want to miss a single thing…

10) Live in the moment

Like most fast paced people, I am always looking forward to the next upcoming thing in my life. Whether it was going to high school, college, or graduate school, or even studying abroad, I couldn’t wait for the next step in my life. But as the years went on, and the people around me were wishing/wanting the years ahead, I began to slow down and live in the moment. You only get the moment for a moment, and then it’s gone. It was just a little over a year ago that I applied for this Italian internship, and over 2 years since I first heard about Eduglobal and the Italy opportunity-now it’s over. I can honestly say that I lived in the moment during my entire 3 months abroad. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, and I wanted to remember every second.

Final thoughts:

It’s one thing to travel to another country, but it’s completely different to live and work in one. Not many people have the opportunity to embrace and speak another language while building relationships with the native people. I advise everyone to travel the world and experience life outside of the US, because it’s a beautiful thing. Remember, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”












PT Clinical Week #8

Our last week has come to a close, and it didn’t disappoint! I was able to increase my caseload and try new things with patients!


For two afternoons, I learned how to operate and use the Lokomat (a body weight support system combined with a machine that moves the lower legs on a treadmill). It is so complicated! There are so many things that you have to do before you even get the patient! During the examination, you have to get measurements of the legs and enter it into the computer. Then every time that patient comes, you have to manually set the machine to those measurements so it fits the patient perfectly. Each patient does it for 20-30 minutes depending on how much they can tolerate. The type of patients that can use the Lokomat varies. Some patients have some movement in their legs, so the level of assistance that the Lokomat provides is less and vice versa. Even though most patients will probably never walk again, it can be good for maintaining passive range of motion and reducing spasticity. Also, if the patient has some weight-bearing on the treadmill, that is good for maintaining bone strength.

There was a big screen set up in front of the patient that they could play games. Many of the games had an avatar who performed the same movements as them. The object of the game was to catch different items on the screen. In order to turn, the patient could use what little movement they had to change directions on the screen. There were graphs on the computer monitor that showed how much assistance the patient needed, and if their movement was corresponding with the machine or not. If the patient were cognitively aware, they would be able to adjust.


One of the coolest things I saw was the “Indego”.  It was invented in Germany, but Italy is the first nation in the WORLD to get it approved and use it in their clinics. It is like the Exo-skeleton (which is also a body movement walking system) but much smaller and lighter weight. All you need to be able to use it is passive movement of your legs. The level of assistance the machine gives can vary from patient to patient. There is a computer in the hip and the knee and the total weight is 12lbs.


Our hospital/clinic was on the news because there was a patient who was getting married, and he was to use the Indego to walk down the aisle!!!! It’s amazing what technology can do. The ultimate goal is that because it’s so compact, lightweight, and easy to use, that patients will be able to use it at home. It costs about $80,000 so those who can afford it can purchase it; otherwise,  the hope is that as the price goes down, they will become more affordable.

One of the Indego patients was a 47-year-old woman who also had surgery on her spine and no longer has use of her legs. She uses the Indego almost every day. I also saw an Indego examination of an anesthesiologist who fell from a small ladder and injured C3-C5. He regained use of his arms and trunk, but not his legs.


On Wednesday, Kristin and I presented our inservice, “Mobilization with movement” (Mulligan Concept). We spoke in English incorporating some Italian, but our Powerpoint was ENTIRELY in Italian. It went awesome, and all the therapists were really impressed. We even included two demonstrations of the techniques. Normally in the US we bring in food for the inservices we present, but here they had a spread of pizza, paninis, and dessert!


My favorite patient was always treated in her room because she had a trach and an NG tube. In the last two weeks, we progressed to standing and walking! Her hair was always crazy when we started getting her out of bed, so I would comb it for her (one of my favorite things). The last week my therapist and I would tell her I was leaving and traveling Europe and then heading back to America. On Friday, I told her “ e stato un piacere” (It was nice to meet you), buona fortuna (good luck), and even asked her to come back to my house! After all this, she looked up at my CI and says “ill see her Monday??” We had to explain I was leaving…forever. ;(


Before leaving, one of the CI’s told us, “Buona Vita”, meaning have a “good life”. Contrary to belief, it’s a term used instead of goodbye, in the possibility of reuniting in the future even though we are a world apart. I love it, and I will be back. I promise.


PS: Next post from Vienna, Austria!

Cinque Terre & Pisa (Round 2)

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This was our last weekend trip in Italy, and it was by far the best experience I have ever had. The other girls had not seen Cinque Terre, so I decided to go back with them, and I am sure glad I did. The 5 towns are nothing too spectacular individually, but we did the hike between the towns along the coast, which is a MUST DO.  It was the most amazing/beautiful hike I haven ever done. The weather was perfect, and I wore a sleeveless shirt the entire time! The views were absolutely breathtaking. Here’s a glimpse of just how much physical activity was involved:

  • 33,000 steps
  • 232 flights of stairs
  • 14 miles

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We didn’t make it to all 5 towns because we wanted to stop in the second to last one to watch the sunset. Everyone was standing around just waiting for it on the cliffs and taking pictures. There is nothing more to say…the pictures say it all.


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PS:  The tower is still leanin’…

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PT Clinical Week#7

Another week down, only one more week to go! This week flew by especially because I was sick on Wednesday so I only worked 4 days.

On Monday, I completed a home exercise program for a patient who was discharged home. I included 5 exercises with pictures, descriptions, and prescriptions. Because the computer wasn’t working in time to print before he left, it will be mailed to him. And because I was in a time crunch, I used Google translator to translate from English to Italian (hehe).

The older gentleman with the stroke (that I mentioned in an earlier post) was discharged on Wednesday. On Monday, I was working with him alone, and he said something to me in Italian. I responded with, “yes” even though I didn’t fully understand what he said (never do that). The next thing I knew he was trying to go from lying down to sitting up on his own and his face was bright red! I was able to help him up, but I was not ready for that unexpected transfer. The language barrier has been tolerable thus far, but it can become really scary when you are alone and something unexpected happens. Sometimes when I am transferring this patient, he begins before I am ready. So later in the week, I tried to instruct him in terms of steps that I wanted him to complete first like “viene avanti” which means “come forward” in his chair. Then I count to three (uno, due, tre) before he begins. This method has gone a lot smoother.

We had 3 new patients this week:

  • 41 y/o incomplete SCI patient C3-T1 (motorcycle crash) also sustained 2 broken elbows & nose
  • 40 y/o TBI (fall at work) hemiplegic L side, frontal lobe signs, and has a 17 month old son
  • 77 y/o stroke patient who gets very emotional and cries several times each session.


Most therapists transfer a lot differently than we would. They transfer with their arms under the patient’s armpits instead of their hands under the patient’s butt, and it seems very unsafe.

All the therapists, nurses, and health assistants wear scrubs, but the doctors wear business casual and even some wear jeans (nicer jeans of course). I find that really cool.

PT’s go to school for a total of 3 years after HS and receive a bachelor’s degree. Nurses also go to school for 3 years after HS. The HS system is a lot better in Italy so a lot of our general education courses that are taught in undergrad in college are actually taught in HS here. They feel that PTs in the US actually have two bachelor’s degrees (undergrad and then PT) because of how the 6 years is divided by different subject matter.



Orvieto Cathedral

Facade of Orvieto Cathedral

Facade of Orvieto Cathedral


The second place we traveled to this past Saturday was Orvieto. The parking garage was located underground below the city, and we wanted to take the escalators to the top but they were broken! So we walked up 100s of stairs! After that workout, we explored some of the city, and then three of us took a 3 mile walking path that encompassed the city parameters. Because of the location of the city (see below),  the trail was extremely difficult and we were sweating by the end.

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The girls wanted to get gelati following the hike, but every gelati place was either closed or the open restaurants didn’t serve it. The season for gelato must be coming to an end until spring?? I hope not.  Before leaving the town, we headed to some underground caves. They were really cool and not what I was expecting when I thought of the word “cave”. The one we went into was founded in 1984 by people who were working on their trattoria. They began excavating the cave in that year, and the excavation still continues today!

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We were going to eat dinner in Orvieto because there were a lot of great restaurants recommended, but because most Italian restaurants don’t open until 7:30, we decided to call our landlord Paolo, who makes the best italian food known to man, and he prepared dinner for us to have when we got back.

Only one more weekend of Italian travels!

Inside the caves

Inside the caves






Situated on the flat summit of a large butte of volanic tuff. The site of the city is among the most dramatic in Europe, rising above the almost vertical faces of tuff cliffs completed by defensive walls built of the same stone called Tufa.

A major center of Entruscan civilization

Orvieto was annexed by Rome in the third century BC and was last conquered by Julius Caesar.

The city of Orvieto has long kept the secret of its labyrinth of caves and tunnels that lie underground. The underground city holds more than 1200 tunnels, galleries, wells, cellars, etc. Many of the homes of noble families used these tunnels as a means to escape times of siege. The tunnels would lead from the city of palazzo to a safe exit point some distance from the city walls.


Civita di Bagnoregio

This past weekend we decided to do two places on Saturday and spend Sunday at home in Umbertide. The first place we went to on Saturday morning was Civita di Bagnoregio. This town perched high on a small cliff surrounded by a valley. There is literally only one road/bridge that you can take to get there. You park at the edge of the bridge and then walk up to the town. The entire walk across the bridge was absolutely incredible and filled with great views.IMG_3543
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It was supposed to rain all day, but that morning when we checked the weather, it said it was going to be clear all day! We really lucked out. We walked the city and did a tour of a small house that was built into the side of the mountain. Shortly after we were informed that it was used in the film “Pinocchio” here in Italy.  We also went through a tunnel that cut through the mountain (it was off limits to tourists, but the fence was kicked over, so we went through anyway. It was a rather large tunnel, but centuries ago it was just big enough for women to hold their water jugs on their head to transport place to place. It was one of the only tunnels used to go from one side of town to the other…and later they widened it so farmers could go through with their equipment.   

Cliff house

Cliff house

Cliff house

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Civita was founded by Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago

At the end of the 17th century, the bishop and the municipal gov’t were forced to move to Bagnoregio (former suburb) because of the major earthquake that accelerated the old town’s decline.

In the 19th century, Civita’s location was turning into an island (as seen in pictures), and the pace of the erosion quickenend as the layer of clay below the stone was reached in the area where today’as bridge is situated (the only way to get into the city from the mainland).

Civita became known in Italian as “il paese che muore” (the town that is dying).



PT Clinical Week #6

Week six has come to a close, which means Kristin and I only have 2 more weeks in the clinic before we start Part 3 of our journey.

This week I did a lot more hands on with patients than the previous week. But it was a mix of observing, helping, and then working independently, so I was able to learn in different ways.

The patient I am treating independently goes to occupational therapy following her morning treatment session with us. So I am allowed to follow and observe her there. At first I was just watching, but then no one was really telling her what to do or even watching her so my instructor told me to come up with exercises for her to do to work on the deficits I found in PT! Didn’t know I would become an OT on this journey too! I have her drawing, building block towers, and using a tiny peg board (fine motor skills). I work with coordination and proprioception of the UE but also endurance. It’s different from the US because a therapist would normally be 1v1 with a patient working or at least working with a group of patients.  But sometimes I am the only person in the room, and I am supposed to be with PT!

PT’s here are able to use the hoyer lift and don’t have to get the nurse to do it for them. I’ve never actually seen one used fully before, and the one they have is so easy to use! One of my patients has tetanus and has been bedridden for quite some time due to the infection. She is on an NG tube and isn’t able to go down to the gym for treatment; so we visit her room twice a day of which she shares with 2 other roommates. I was worried that Italians did not take tetanus shots as seriously as we do, but they do.  She just happened to be someone who didn’t get one.  Definitely a new diagnosis for me.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday here there is a course going on Bobath NDT (Neuro-Developtment Treatment). A lot of the therapists are involved and are using some of my patients as participants. Italian therapists use a lot of Bobath concepts here, even though there isn’t a lot of evidence supporting it. We touch upon it briefly at LVC, but don’t harp on it because of the lack of evidence.


They have a break room where there are tons of goodies from patients or that the staff brings in. For instance, my patient is being discharged today, so he ordered a huge box of pastries for everyone. Not only do they have caffé and biscotti/pastries in the break room but they also have wine! Some of the therapists drink wine during lunch.

Apparently Italians don’t use hand sanitizers too much. It is not located in the clinic (to use after treating each patient) and it is actually really expensive for a tiny bottle in stores. So instead, therapists wear rubber gloves when treating, or they just be sure to wash their hands after each patient. They also don’t utilize spray sanitizer for the plinths like the US does after every patient. Here, they have the paper that they roll over the beds like you see in the doctors offices. Only if the bed is really dirty do they use the spray (I saw it for the first time today).