What did I learn in the five weeks as a USAC FIDA? As a seasoned veteran to life I didn’t think it was possible to learn something new. I was wrong and in fact came away with more than imagined.
I learned a great deal in my three classes: Sociology of Food taught by Dr. Amy Blackstone of University of Maine. Introduction to Italian with Serena Marrocco, who was terrific and in five weeks taught us more than I thought possible to learn in 50 weeks. And I learned how to cook in the Cuisine Introductory Aperitivo with pastry chef Renée Abou Jaoudé.
From our field trips I learned that climate change is already impacting agriculture and ecosystems in Italy. The wine industry has started to harvest grapes in August when the harvest traditionally took place in September. Olives fall into the same boat with an earlier harvest. I’m curious how this shift in timing will influence the traditional holiday season, and how the traditional holiday season will impact the harvest.
I learned about Italy’s food systems. Including the roles of history and culture has on environmental issues, such as GMO use and labeling in Europe. I learned what “local” food means in Italy and how it is substantially different than what “local” means at home.
I learned that what is an invasive species in the U.S. is a keystone species in Italy. For example, Salt Cedar.
I learned that Viterbo has many adorable dogs and cats. Including this one who would not let us pet him.
I learned that a building can start as a convent, become a prison, and finally a place of learning called Università degli Studi della Tuscia.
I learned to bring a pen to a test.
I learned that you should not loan nice pens to the undergrads who did not bring a pen to a test.
I learned some words and euphoniums which I will not repeat in this blog.
I learned that food cooked at home does not turn out as good as food cooked in class.
I learned a new system of recycling.
I learned that traveling abroad and studying abroad are different. They share many of the same challenges (language, norms, etc…), but there is something about learning how to settle down and live in a new place. Albeit for a short amount of time.
I learned how to be a student again. And from this, I think it will help me be a better instructor.
I learned about the USAC program and studying abroad.
As far as studying abroad in Viterbo – would I recommend it to others? Absolutely, especially for those who are living abroad for the first time. Why Viterbo? For one the city – it is the perfect size, easy to get around and has everything you need. It is a easy place to learn – or in my case try to learn – Italian. There are nearby natural areas (see previous blog post) for those who want to get a hike in. Compared to other places, it is inexpensive; my housing, food, and other expenses were less than my expenses in Boise Idaho. And – this is the big one – the town residents are incredibly warm, patient and kind.
The primary reason for studying in Viterbo with USAC, it is the Viterbo USAC itself. The classes available are diverse and provides students a taste of Italy, yet applicable in the U.S. And the instructors and USAC advisors are amazing! Because Viterbo is centrally located USAC takes students on numerous field trips, including Rome, Florence and Southern Italy. But the biggest reason to study abroad in Viterbo with USAC are the people with USAC, Francesca Del Giudice and Luisa Quatrini. They have the USAC machine fine-tuned and running smoothly. The students LOVE them, and it is easy to see why. At the end of the program the students had an unofficial award ceremony – Luisa was awarded with the title of “Allora Queen” and Francesca “USAC Mom.”
This is my last blog. With this, I would like to say thanks to all those at BSU Global Learning Opportunities (GLO), USAC Viterbo, the residents of Viterbo, Dr. and Mr. Blackstone, and of course, the students from the USAC Viterbo summer session II – you made the summer amazing.