How Golden Key’s study abroad programs change lives


“I’m thankful to my parents, my advisor, Golden Key and the Sant’Anna Institute for providing this incredible family-like home in Sorrento.”


– Jackson Zaccaria

Jackson Zaccaria may be crushing it as an honors philosophy major at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, but he also has his eye on an international law career. So Jackson lined up a semester abroad by choosing a program offered by the Sant’Anna Institute, a Golden Key partner, in Sorrento, Italy. His four-month experience included top-notch academics at the Institute, plus “road trips” to Amsterdam, Naples and Morocco. All told, he visited 18 cities in 7 countries on 2 continents.

The experience changed Jackson in incredible and unexpected ways. Here’s what the Golden Key junior wrote: “This has been the most eye-opening, humbling and invigorating adventure of my life. It has evolved me into an entirely new person directed toward global citizenship.”

Want a memorable and life-changing experience you’ll never forget? Golden Key members have a wealth of study abroad experiences to choose from, so check out Jackson’s tips for making the most of yours.

1.      Choose a culture that strikes a chord. Jackson chose the Italy-based Sant’Anna Institute as a nod to his Italian-American roots, which he called “a huge part of my identity.” Coolest thing: “Walking down a street in Sorrento, I heard someone yell my name, Zaccaria. Even though I’d never been to Italy before, I felt like a true Italian.”

2.   Widen your horizons with service. Jackson jumped at the chance to lead a volunteer project with L.E.S.S., a nonprofit refugee assistance organization based in Naples. He and fellow Sant’Anna Institute scholars collected clothing and supplies and delivered them to African and Pakistani refugees in Naples. Jackson called it a “humbling, uplifting experience”.

3.      Pay attention to your program requirements. Most universities require a stellar GPA before they’ll green-light a semester abroad, and you’ll have to demonstrate a strong correlation between your overseas program and your major. Do your research, but also tap your knowledge base—your advisor or other Golden Key chapter members who’ve studied abroad.

Check out other study abroad opportunities offered by the Sant’Anna Institute, just one of Golden Key’s amazing partners, and learn more about all the incredible benefits you get when you join Golden Key.

About the author: Donna Moriarty

Donna Moriarty, Founder of Silversmith Writing & Editing, is a veteran writer, editor and author whose work has appeared in national magazines, newspapers and blogs. She is the author of Not Just Words: How a Good Apology Makes You Braver, Bolder, and Better at Life. Follow her on Twitter @demoriarty.

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