Category: Italy (page 2 of 2)

An Excursion to Rome

Anderw Burgess - Santi Luca i MartinaAs a student of architecture, the opportunity to study in Rome was invaluable. To be able to see firsthand the art and architecture created long before our country even existed was an incredible experience. Though it is difficult to narrow down what the most compelling thing I experienced was, the Pantheon is one building I will not forget.

On my first full day in Rome, a small contingent of our larger group decided to do some independent sightseeing. The five of us, mostly acquaintances at the time, walked from our apartment north to the heart of the city. After a brief visit to our program center, we headed in search of the Pantheon.

I still remember turning my head to look down an alley and seeing it. We were to the west, so we decided to circle around to meet it from the front. When we got to the piazza, it was crawling with people, but the Pantheon was foremost in my mind. We walked up the steps and were all overwhelmed by the monumentality of the structure.

I still remember the noise at the threshold and the change once we entered. There was a sudden hush—the act of crossing into the space seemed to demand silence. It was afternoon; the sun coming through the oculus was on the floor to our left. I went and stood right in the midst of the light.

The people around me faded. I stood in awe of the hemisphere above me and the floor below. I tried to absorb everything and failed. There were too many details; too much to see.Anderw Burgess - Villa D'este

I remember standing by a column and simply staring at it, trying to understand everything I could. How it was constructed. How it was implemented. What it looked like almost 2,000 years ago. The possibilities that were left to my imagination were overwhelming. And for seven weeks, I felt this exact same way each time I would stand and gaze at yet another of mankind’s great masterpieces.

– Andrew Burgess, Lecce, Italy

My Most Memorable Class

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 1.42.11 PM  My study abroad experience in Siena was, for lack of a less cliché description, life-changing. The Tuscan landscape was indescribably beautiful. The friends, both American and Italian, were some of the most genuine people I’ve ever encountered. The food was exquisite, and the cultural experiences were eye-opening. My academic experiences collided seamlessly with my cultural experiences abroad. My favorite class, Food and Culture of Italy taught by Suzanne W, is the perfect example of this collision.

First, Suzanne was the ideal teacher for this course because she too had been an American abroad years earlier. Suzanne has lived in Tuscany with her Italian husband for years. Though she has become fully integrated into Italian culture, she had originally studied abroad in Milan as an undergrad and was able to provide us with a unique perspective on learning about Italian culture.Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 1.43.16 PM

Food and Culture was my favorite class because the planned excursions for the class provided some of the most unique opportunities to learn about Italian culinary traditions. Some of these excursions included a trip to Brolio Castle where Chianti wine is produced, a trip to Spannocchia where the Cinta Senese pigs are raised to produce salumi, and a trip to a local olive grove to see olive oil being produced. Visiting Brolio Castle was fascinating because we were able to learn about both the history of the castle itself and the wine-production process. When we visited Spannocchia, we watched a video about industrial farming in the United States before we learned about the sustainable production processes Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 1.41.27 PMat the farm. (…) At the olive grove, we participated in an olive harvest before going to the olive press to see new olive oil being made. We were able to taste the final products at all of these locations, and after seeing how they were produced, we were able to better appreciate the gastronomic experiences.

The immersion opportunities in my Food and Culture class were essential to my academic experience in this course. Had I taken this class at the University of Oregon, I would have missed out on all of these excursions and would be lacking the cultural context necessary to truly understand the material presented in class. The hands on experiences and visual stimuli offered in this course made all of the knowledge that I acquired stay fresh much longer. I think back on these experiences and remember what I learned from each them with a fondness that cannot be replicated with the use of a textbook.

– Madison Shepard, Food and Culture in Siena

Learning and Living in Lecce

Nearly every day presented something new for me to do and I loved the sense of adventure and opportunity to learn about a completely different Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 2.05.46 PMculture. There is no one memory that sticks out further than all of the others; my entire experience in Lecce, Italy was amazing. I could narrow it down to a top three experiences which would be: the week off of class when my mother (who has never been out of the US) came to travel Italy with me, the weekend when 2 of my newest and closest friends and I traveled to northern Italy to stay with a friend we met in the first month of school, and the last days I spent in Italy with another of my friend’s authentic Italian family (that was a real test of our language lessons, let me tell you!) being fully and completely immersed in the Italian lifestyle. But, because I could write about all of those experiences for days, I’ll just stick with telling about the most treasured thing I came back to the States with: newfound friendships.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 2.05.34 PMWhen you are thrown into a strange apartment in a foreign country that speaks a different language, I’ll be completely honest, it is quite terrifying. However, then you start meeting people and you realize that this is the best thing you have ever done. Sharing an experience like this is indescribable. It creates a bond between people that words cannot explain and pretty soon you have your own little community and get to know everyone in your study abroad group like you’ve been friends for years. I met some amazing people from our own U of O as well as from other countries and other places in the US.

I share memories with these people that I met over the summer that I will never forget and no one other than those who were there will ever be able to fully understand. Even when I explained stories upon my return to friends and family members, I felt they could not fully grasp my experience. Studying abroad and being submerged in a new culture can only be truly appreciated if you yourself go and do it. You cannot rely on stories from other people about their experience, you have to see for yourself and make your own memories. This sounds extremely cliché, but studying abroad truly was the best experience of my life so far.

– Sydne Sloy, Lecce Italy

Pasta and Passion in Macerata

The Italian culture and lifestyle would be nothing without the people of Italy. The rolling green hilly landscape and amazing delectable cuisine full of handmade pasta and gelato help-but the Italian people themselves are truly special. Stereotypically Italians are known as being loud, passionate, confrontational, and full of gestures. My first day in Macerata, a friend and I were walking down the main street Coso Cavour and immediately heard two very loud voices outside a “pasticceria”(pastry shop). There were two middle-aged women standing very close to one another screaming high-pitched Italian at each other. One was carrying a plastic bag full of vegetables and using her other hand to wave dramatically up in the air while the other was looking up into the sky rolling her eyes with a hand defiantly on her hip. Walking towards them, I whispered to my friend and noted, that they seemed very angry they must have be in an argument. Not thinking anything of it we walked past them and went into a store.

Coming out five minute later and still hearing the same voices I turned toward the two women. To my dismay the two women were air kissing each others cheeks while smiling and enthusiastically singing, “Arrividerchi, Ciao, A Demani” (Bye, See you later); pleasantly walking away from each other grinning. I was stunned, was itDavidson1 not minutes earlier that I had just witnessed these women in a huge fight. Confused I thought back on the situation. Although I didn’t realize it then, Italians are very passionate people and very family oriented. What I first assumed to be an argument from my Americanized perspective was actually just a normal Italian conversation that consisted of loud voices, big gestures, and highly engaged conversations. Passionate is the best word to describe Italians in my opinion. Italians demonstrate passion in forms of love, friendship, and for their homeland and country.

This passion transfers not only between friends and family but strangers as well. One of the most memorable experiences and true representation of the Italian people and culture was meeting my neighbors Silvia  and Marco. The first month in our apartment in Macerata, my roommate and I were cooking dinner for some friends in the program and had the door slightly open for them to walk in. As we were cooking dinner chopping fresh vegetables and boiling water, we heard a knock on the door and bursting in came this older Italian lady into our tiny apartment filling the small hallway with a huge smile.

She was tall and had a head full of curly grey hair with piercing blue eyes and was wearing layers of jewelry on her neck and fingers. She looked at our stunned expressions and started greeting us with “Ciao” and other Italian phrases with such a warm smile that it didn’t matter that we had never met. She quickly enveloped both my roommate and I into a huge hug and put a gift-wrapped bag into our hands, which we later discovered was full of lemons and a mason jar of prune jam.

I was stunned, who was this Italian lady and why was she being so nice to us? In Italian she was asking us our names and where we were from. I was surprised I understood her after only a couple weeks of Italian. Silvia was smiling and was genuinely interested and seemed overly excited to meet us. After exchanging names and that we were from America, Silvia kept pointing up to the ceiling and then to herself. Silvia was telling us she lived upstairs and rapidly grabbed my roommate’s hand and was rushing her out the door up flights of stairs. I quickly grabbed my Italian dictionary and followed them up to her apartment. Unfortunately, the basic Italian phrases would only last us so long. (put somewhere else)

Davidson8[3]My roommate and I ended up spending a couple hours with Silvia. We met her husband Marco and their son. She fed us delicious traditional Italian Easter cake and gave us a tour of the apartment. The older couple pulled out old family photos and went through each one of them with us pointing out their other children and different vacations around Italy they had taken in the past. They showed us pictures of the Italian coastal beaches and slowly pronounced the names of the cities making us repeat it with an Italian accent. Then they would either smile energetically at our achievements or sourly shake their heads at our botched Italian and would repeat the word until it was identical to their smooth Italian dialect.

We also discovered that Silvia’s husband Marco was an artist and Silvia proudly displayed all of his many types of artwork to us making gestures of painting on a canvas. All of this time, it was my roommate and I speaking English and Marco and Silvia speaking Italian. Although there was a language barrier, it was as if it didn’t really exist because of hand gestures or commonalities. Somehow we managed to understand one another without the use of language. They taught me so much about the Italian landscape, and I even learned the days of the week from Silvia and Marco later on.

We left with smiles on our faces and I felt truly at home. Silvia was the perfect Italian grandma and opened her house to two random strangers she just met. I don’t think she realized it at the time, but she created a sense of family for me, without knowing it. Although Silvia didn’t speak English, and I never really knew in-depth Italian we managed to create and form a relationship and her passionate persona is one I will never forget.

* All names have been changed for privacy

– Rachel Davidson, Food & Culture in Macerata

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