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We are currently collecting alumni stories about traveling and studying abroad! Submit your story and photo here and tell us how EAP has shaped YOUR life. We'll try to post as many as we can, one at a time. You can also just go to our Facebook page and let us know what you think.

Gina Pagnella (EAP Italy '04)

Left: Gina during the post-flooding clean up      Right: Monterosso, Italy during the flooding in 2011

Growing up in a classic Italian-American household with my sweet Tuscan grandmother and flamboyant Southern Italian grandfather, finding the right college was more than just finding the right place to form my career goals. I also wanted a school that would finally allow me to explore my roots and learn the language of my ancestors. Thus, I applied and insistently appealed to get into UCSB, as I was very intrigued by the Education Abroad Programs in Italy and the magnificent Italian Department.  I went in as a Communications major who was taking Italian classes on the side, and came out a nearly bilingual Italy bound woman ready to join the post college workforce abroad. 

Since graduating from UCSB almost six years ago, I have lived in the region of Ligura and have used what I had learned at UCSB and through my EAP experience to successfully work and build a life for myself in Italy. I have worked as a teacher, in hospitality, marketing, and in tourism,  and even went back for post grad studies at Genoa University. There was really no challenge I did not feel ready for. 

However, the village where I live now, Monterosso al Mare, and the village where I worked, Vernazza, which are the two most northern villages in the Cinque Terre, were hit last fall by extraordinarily heavy rains causing devastating landslides and floods.  This area is beloved by tourists and students all over the world. I have had the pleasure of running to into many UCSB EAP students, even from my same Siena program, escaping for a weekend on our sandy beaches.

Along with other expats in our community, I formed a rebuilding movement to raise funds and coordinate assistance efforts. For more information, please go to  We also welcome you to come visit!