Monday, February 11, 2013

Winter In Italy: Family, Frescos, And Future Travels

Shiney David, Verrazano Class of 2013, has returned from her winter study abroad program in Florence, Italy.  Read below for her reflection on her overseas experience.

I had the time of my life during my three weeks in Italy, and no words can describe how sad I am to be back home. Although I was thrilled to see my family again, I wish I was still in Florence, Italy. These short three weeks have given me the best memories of my life which I would not trade for anything. I had one class, which was Italian Language for beginners; however, I have learned a lot more than just a language. 

I was very excited to learn about the Italian culture. I wanted to know how people lived their lives and what their ethics were. I was very astonished and pleased to learn how  family oriented the Italian culture is. The majority of shops and restaurants close for the entire afternoon and again between 7 pm and 8 pm for the day so that the owners and the workers can spend time with their families. I found this aspect of the culture very heartwarming. Having a busy school and work schedule myself, I can hardly find any time to sit down with my family and have some quality hours. Living in Italy I learned how much importance is placed on the family, and it made me want to incorporate that into my own life and dedicate more time to sit with my parents and talk to them about my day and learn about theirs. 

In addition to the cultural experience, I had a great academic experience. My professors were very kind and humble. They gave each student individual attention and made sure every student understood the language. They also prepared several interesting class activities to help us learn the language faster. Other than the class material, our professors also got involved with our daily lives. They recommended restaurants to try out and  tours we should sign up for. One of our professors also took us to the market and made us try the Italian biscuits and bread, and she taught us how to order items in the market. From the tours and activities that our professors recommended, I got an opportunity to take a fresco painting class and take a tour of the Duomo. The fresco painting class was exceptional. I have been drawing my entire life; therefore, this experience was very special to me. The other class activity that I participated in was the tour of the Duomo. I had been to see the outside of the Duomo several times during my study abroad experience, but I hadn't yet had a chance to go inside.  The experience of viewing the interior of the Duomo was ten times better with our faculty guide because he explained the significance of each painting and sculpture. His guidance made me appreciate the structure more than I ordinarily would have.

I am home now, and I am already saving money to go back to Italy. There are so many places that I didn’t get to visit which I would like to see, and there are even more places which I would like to visit again. If you are a student contemplating whether to study abroad or not, my only advice will be to take the opportunity without thinking twice. This experience has helped me grow as a person and become more responsible. It has taught me valuable lessons about living life and valuing family over materialistic things.

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