REVIEW OF Canadian College Italy BY Alum, Marc Wiltshire
- Date of Review
February 28, 2023
- Grades (year)
Gr. 12 - 12 (2000 - 2001)
- University (major)
Concordia University (Communication Studies)
Film & TV Editor
(5) Overall Experience
My time at CCI remains a high point in my life, both personally and professionally. I made some of my lifelong best friends during my stay in Lanciano, and many friendships still going strong 20 years later. I made my first movie while at school with help from all the students and faculty, and filmmaking has become my livelihood. The culture and the visits to Rome, Venice, Ischia, Naples, Capri, and smaller towns near Lanciano were wonderful. It was absolutely a privilege to live in such a beautiful part of the world and with such a dynamic and friendly community. Weekends going to the beach by train, the Venetian Ball hosted by the school, the church bells, and the incredibly steep hills we climbed every day to get to class. All of the traveling I did after graduation was just a treat. Everyone was so welcoming. It was my first time away from home and I was very anxious but within hours of arriving, I had been greeted by all students and staff, had been invited to parties, and even a weekend getaway to Rome. It was a very special place, where I felt I could be myself more than I had ever felt at home.
(5) School Leadership
Mrs. D'Allessandro was everyone's mom during our stay in Lanciano. I had never felt so homesick in my life, and she literally made me feel at home, welcomed in her office anytime. I was lucky that her two daughters were students with me and were incredibly kind with their hospitality. Within a few days of being there, I found that all the leadership made me feel safe and welcome, and eased many of my concerns. There was an inspiring push from the leadership to learn the language which made it feel less like homework and more like a valuable life skill.
The faculty at CCI was brilliant. One teacher in particular who taught acting for theatre was remarkable and a huge influence on my life. He made me understand great acting, and I still utilize his techniques to this day. I always felt respected by my teachers, and that the faculty were respected by all students. I was very happy with the instruction I had. In fact, I hadn't realized how poor my high school education had been prior to attending CCI, the teachers elevated me and made me a better student. I felt motivated to learn and to push myself further when my studies got challenging. And I was encouraged to focus on the subjects that I valued most rather than just doing a class because it seemed like everyone needed it.
The academic level at CCI was far beyond what I had been exposed to previously. At first, I found this to be intimidating and worried I wouldn't keep up because so many of my peers seemed more advanced than I was. But thanks to the faculty and advisors, they helped me hone in on what I wanted to learn and how to best utilize my time towards the academic achievements that mattered to me and to my University applications. During my time at CCI, I felt there was an opportunity for several paths of study, far beyond what I had experienced previously. I felt far more prepared for University after attending CCI. Even though I knew I would take a path in the arts, I was given opportunities to learn so much more, but was also nurtured for my goals and interests and was given opportunities for extra credit by doing art projects for the school. I started my time thinking I would be at the bottom of the class, and by graduation, I was awarded an Academic Achievement award for Theatre class. This school directly impacted my self-confidence in my chosen career path.
I didn't partake in any particular extracurriculars, though I created my own video club where we'd watch movies and discuss them. And I was constantly filming with my video camera and created my first-ever movie with help from some faculty and staff. From what I could tell, there was always something going on and everyone was pretty busy doing activities.
The entire class for the year, in every grade level, was 100 students. It was so intimate and special, and everyone felt equal regardless of race, age, or grade. That was very unique, everyone hung out, so it never felt like one group couldn't be with the other. If you're cool, you're cool. There were some socio-economic class differences, however, that weren't immediately apparent to me and never got in the way of my friendships. Aside from those surface realities, I never got the impression one group was mean or disrespectful to another due to money or class. Everyone was a fish out of water in this place and we were bonded by that unique experience regardless of wealth.
(5) School Life
I LOVED going to school at CCI. Again, by far my favorite period of my school days. Quality of life was as high as it could be! Great food at the cafeteria but also all over town, and it's much cheaper to live in Italy than in the USA or Canada. Hot water was limited, I remember that being annoying as we had to fight to take showers first in the morning. I think in general students weren't any more stressed than the average teen. But times have changed so much with smartphones that I cannot say how that has affected the experience. Overall students were passionate and participated in all activities. They worked hard to make the entire community a special place with great things to do.
The unique experience of living abroad together bonded us as a very tight community. We were exceptionally loyal to one another, especially if there was any conflict with a local or any trouble with other kids. Everyone looked out for each other, and the boys always made sure to chaperone the girls home at night and never let them be alone in town after dark, just in case. Parents and alumni are always invited to events and to participate in updates on the school. I have remained very close with over one dozen of my friends from CCI dating back to 2001. We've traveled together, and even lived together! During the pandemic, I started a group text with everyone I was still in contact with, to commemorate our twenty-year anniversary. The group expanded into a massive group community, and now three years later we continue to chime in frequently with life updates. It's amazing how tight we are and how well we remember each other.
(5) School Location
Great location! Beautiful small town, easy to walk everywhere and no need for taxis. We would take a train to the beach on weekends. We took a bus to a nearby town for a long weekend. Very easy to get around. Great food all over, the farmers market on Wednesdays was always fun. What struck me was that the school was right in the middle of the town, but I could walk ten minutes and be in lush farmland, with windmills and endless fields, with no ambient sounds other than the breeze brushing against the grass. I loved how easy it was to escape from everything and relax so close to school.
I was a bit anxious about the interview, but that turned out great. It was much more relaxed than I expected. I think it would help to talk to other students/alumni via social media to find out more. I think one needs to have an open mind when applying to a school abroad, be prepared to get out of your comfort zone, and not judge the different cultures you'll encounter. Be interested in the culture where you're going. I think showing that you've researched the country and have an interest in the language will benefit you when applying. And from what I recall, the CCI administration was very helpful in giving me insights into the school and what resources were available to me. Feel free to reach out to them!
(5) University placement and counselling
I had decided to take a gap year, so didn't spend much time on my University applications. But the faculty and staff were always willing to assist with advice about which schools to look at based on what I was thinking about studying. I knew I would pursue a career in filmmaking in some capacity, or at least that this is what I wanted to focus on. But I knew nothing about it and thought I would need to live in Hollywood. My acting professor was a professor at Ryerson University in the film program, so was very helpful in telling me about the program there and what they might offer, as well as other schools in Canada that had film programs but did them differently. I ended up choosing to attend a private technical college to study filmmaking rather than going the University route right away, and it turned out to be perfect for me at that time. I eventually attended Undergrad at Concordia University thanks to the support of that acting teacher, he wrote a very nice letter of reference for me once I was ready to make my application. I'm forever grateful to my faculty at CCI for helping me launch my career.