Name: Alison

Major(s): Art History

Minor(s): Romantic Languages

Program: Temple University

Where: Rome

When: Fall 2008

Favorite Course: Galleries and Studios

Highlight: Mass at the Vatican

Favorite Dish: Gnocchi with pesto sauce

Least Favorite Dish:  WIld Boar Pasta


What did you learn to love about the culture?

I found it quite true what people said about the Italian culture being more relaxed than American culture. When I first arrived and had to approach everyday experiences in a different manner in Italy it was frustrating, but now that I am back in America I miss the pace of life in Italy. For example on my lunch break I would spend time sitting in Piazza del Popolo located near the Temple Rome building. I enjoyed trying a new kind of pizza and observing the happenings in the piazza. Although Piazza del Popolo is located at the entrance of one of the busiest streets in Rome, Via del Corso, Romans still took the time to eat lunch or have a cigarette in the open air.  This is not to say that the Italian culture is not completely unaffected by the obsession of over productivity, I would just say there is more emphasis on taking time out to enjoy life like whether it is sipping a good cappuccino, sitting in a piazza over lunch break, or even just taking a stroll and window-shopping. Being a student and not having a whole lot of money to spend I found that there was plenty to do to enjoy oneself in Rome that was free, and my favorite memories were just sitting near ancient buildings, in-between crowded streets, and watching all the vitality of Roman life.


How have you used the language since you have returned?

One of the best ways I have found to keep learning a language in the U.S, where you do not have as many immersion opportunities, is to continue reading magazines and books in Italian and also watching films in the language. I hope to join a group where I can practice speaking Italian once a week before I lose the language skills. Since I am an art history major I hope to use Italian in an academic environment more than I would in another cultural immersion experience like studying abroad in Italy. Furthermore living in an environment where you are forced to practice the language everyday is very different than being in the U.S. where it is more on your own time and interest that motivates you to practice. I miss being forced to practice Italian but I feel that is important not to wait too long when you get back from Italy to practice the language or it will get harder and harder to get back into it.


What is one piece of advice you would pass on to students who are studying abroad?

When you first arrive at study abroad there is a lot to adjust to and if you are like me it takes at least a month to really feel comfortable in a new place. What someone told me before I left was that it is very important to continue to explore Rome even on days when you are experiencing signs of culture shock and homesickness because this opportunity is incredible and it must be experienced to the fullest. Furthermore I would suggest when you are struggling with issues like money or homesickness or roommates the best remedy I found was to walk the streets of Rome and observe the life around you. There are so many things to do in Rome that don’t cost to much money like having breakfast in bar like the Romans do or drinking wine in a piazza are things that you can’t experience in the U.S. and are much more memorable than staying in the dorms or surfing the web. I would also suggest finding an opportunity where you can meet Italians in a setting where you can really get to know them like tutoring someone in English or finding an Italian to practice your Italian skills with. Tutoring some Italian children English was my favorite part of study abroad because I got to share with them my language culture while also learning more of theirs.