Written by 11:42 pm News

Graduating Late? CISLA Scholar Navigates Studies During Pandemic

Charley Nyzio ‘22 is a Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) scholar, with a double major in Psychology and Italian, hoping to add a Sociology minor. Nyzio spent the beginning of the spring semester studying in Bologna, Italy, having planned on spending the summer in Italy to complete her international internship for CISLA. 

Nyzio had been studying through a Connecticut College approved program, Brown in Bologna, in Bologna, Italy. In the full immersion program, at the University of Bologna, Nyzio lived with American and Italian students. For her international internship, Nyzio was drawn to an institute in Milan with community clinic mental health access, but had anticipated working in Verona with a psychiatrist, who is also a professor focusing on social psychology. Later this month, she explained that he is to host a virtual event to discuss the response to mental health due to the effects of the pandemic in the Veneto region specifically.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Nyzio returned to her home in the United States not too long after her program had started in Bologna, Italy. “For my case, specifically, it was kind of weird because Italy was the first European country to really have been hit hard by the pandemic outbreak and so our study abroad programs were canceled first. I had the option when my program was cancelled to either opt for a refund for the semester or continue with the classes that I was taking at the University of Bologna remotely,”  Nyzio explained. 

She conveyed the confusion surrounding the initial cancellations and shift to remote learning at academic institutions around the world. “Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to withdraw because it wasn’t going to be the same thing to continue to learn in a language that you weren’t being immersed in anymore.” 

 During a CISLA scholar’s sophomore year, students apply and propose a project with language study, and take a gateway course to prepare for their study away in their third year at the college. In the third year, a CISLA scholar will study away with the purpose of advancing language skills, conducting research, and completing an international internship typically after the semester of study away. In their final year, CISLA scholars take a capstone course, complete a research project and demonstrate that they have achieved language proficiency in their prospective languages. 

Nyzio explained the evolution of her CISLA project. Initially, she had an environmentally focused plan for her research, hoping to look at Italy’s system of disposing waste in cities popular for tourism, as well as the role of the “eco mafia,” criminals who take advantage of waste disposal in Italy, Nyzio explained. Ultimately wanting to focus research more centralized in her major, her research naturally changed. 

“I decided to focus my research on mental illness stigma in Italy and also the role of their strong family ties, and how that affects forms of therapy and how that might be utilized more specifically in Italy than in other places,” Nyzio said. 

As the College has changed its guidelines that will allow for, instead of in-person internship funding, funding for remote internships, research, language study or career skill building, Nyzio explained the stress that occurred as she was retreating from Bologna. 

“I didn’t know, at first, if I was going to be able to come back to Italy, if the situation was going to improve, or if the school was going to end up cancelling their in-person internship. It was really muddy for a while,” she explained. 

Pursuing her CISLA project is important to Nyzio. When she decided to withdraw from her study away program, she did not know if she was going to graduate on time, or pursue an international internship as she had hoped. Recently, the Office of Financial Aid Services approved an additional semester of financial aid given her case. 

“The knowledge that I was going to be eligible for another semester of financial aid was really important in coming to my decision in graduating late and pursuing my internship that got canceled this summer,” Nyzio stated. Nyzio will graduate with the Class of 2022, while she had been on track to graduate in 2021, finishing her studies during the fall semester of 2021. She concluded that she hopes to include the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on access to mental healthcare in Italy. •

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