Buonasera! I’m writing to you from the dimly lit dining hall of my pensioni, Hotel Cordova. The wifi here may not be fast, but the hospitality and family-like environment created by our pensioni staff Daniela, Daniel, and Jose make up for it. It’s crazy to think that all of the experiences I’ve had thus far have been a direct result of going into the study abroad office one day and checking out what programs LMU had to offer.
Initially, I never would have thought studying abroad would be probable as a transfer student, much less affordable. After meeting with Pamela Underwood, an advisor at the study abroad office, my worries were laid to rest as it turned out LMU tuition was nearly identical to that of Gonzaga-In-Florence and there were a plethora of scholarships available to students in financial need. Going forward with this study abroad experience has been one of the best decisions of my life and has allowed me to immerse myself in an entirely new culture with a group of people I can now call my friends!
My reason for choosing Gonzaga-In-Florence had to do with three very important factors: architecture, the Italian language, and of course, the food! Look at any picture of Florence and you’ll find beautiful renaissance style buildings with crimson red-tiled roofs. Postcards show carved marble statues of roman gods lining the streets, accompanied by cobblestone roads. The pictures don’t lie! Everywhere I walk in Florence I can see artistic and architectural masterpieces. I find myself stopping every day just to marvel at the intricate yet massive Duomo or study the details of a piece of renaissance art. Listening to and learning the Italian language has been fantastic these past couples of months. My Italian professor, Barbara, takes our class out on trips around the city. We’ve had the opportunity to speak to native Florentine merchants about their experience living in Italy and what their view of America is. Along the way, I’ve had some of the best meals of my life. Every day here includes the best pasta, gelato, and meats I’ve ever had.
A very popular and culturally immersive program we have here at Gonzaga is called English-For-Pasta, where another student and I visit an Italian family every week to eat a home-cooked dinner in exchange for teaching children English. This is one of my favorite activities because it combines fun with food! My family has two children, a 15-year old boy named Giovanni and a 10-year old girl named Elena. I and my program partner, Meggie, spend most of the time talking about what we did over the weekend with the children in English and play games. We’re currently in the process of teaching them poker with biscuits as the playing chips.
I’m excited to return to LMU knowing I have so many experiences to share with my family and friends. The people I’ve met will hopefully stay friends for many years to come. I know for a fact that my experience in the last bit of classes I have at LMU will be different as a result of what I’ve learned in Florence. I have a greater appreciation for how others view the world, how culture can influence many important decisions we make in life, and how important it is to interact with others of different cultures. Study abroad programs are allowing hundreds of thousands of students to change their global perspective and because of this, I believe the world becomes just a little better.