I have decided to start this blog so that my friends and family can keep updated with my adventuring (and eating) while I’m studying abroad in Italy this fall semester. I’ll try to update it as much as I can!
I will be studying at the Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy, which is located in the region of Umbria. It’s about an hour outside of Siena and about two hours north of Rome, to give you a bit of a picture. Umbra is a study abroad institution that is partners with Arcadia University in Philadelphia and college students from all over the U.S. have an opportunity to study abroad there. There is a group of about twelve students from the University of Richmond who will also be studying at Umbra, none of which I know very well, but hey, I can make new friends. Perugia is a medieval, hilltop town with a thriving student population. It’s often described as a “big university town in a small Italian city” because the Umbra Institute, la Università degli Stranieri (University of Foreigners), and la Università di Perugia (the Italian University of Perugia) are all located in the city.
Here’s a little video a former study abroad student made of Perugia to show you a bit of what I will be experiencing!
Needless to say, I’m getting really excited to get packing and get on that plane on the 29th of August.
That brings me to my thoughts about Italy. My mom’s side of the family is Italian and came to the States from the region of Abruzzo when my grandma was just a teenager. When I was younger, I marveled at National Geographic magazines with pictures of far away lands and bizarre cultures and tried to picture myself there. In high school, during my Spanish classes, I started wondering what it would be like to study a country that held a much more personal value for me. Suddenly I found myself longing to go to Italy, to learn the language, experience the culture, eat the food, and gaze at the statues and museums and churches, and in doing so, explore my Italian heritage. When I started classes at the University of Richmond, I immediately sought out the elementary Italian class that was offered, and during the second semester of my freshman year, I was speaking the language of my relatives (not very well, but at least it was something). By my sophomore year, I became determined to get to Italy, and the easiest way for me to do that was to make plans to study abroad there in the fall of junior year. I filled out all the paperwork and applied, met every deadline, did my research on Perugia, and now here I am: about to embark on my first international journey on my own.
There’s a quote from the writer Azar Nafisi that goes “You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” I find this especially true at the moment. I’ve loved living at Richmond, the school and the city. During my time as a student at U of R, I have made some really personal connections with the unique places in the city, the river, my campus, and my own backyard. I will really miss this place when I’m gone, but at the same time I’m sure the scenery in Italy won’t disappoint. The list of people I will miss is an extremely long one including my family, my boyfriend, and every one of my friends from home, those at school, and those abroad. However, with the help of facebook and technology, I will at least be able to keep in contact with everyone.
Now I don’t want to end on a sappy, homesick note before I’ve even left the country! I’m about to start the painstaking process of packing my next three and a half months of necessities into one 50 lb suitcase and one carry-on, I have my brand-new Nikon D3100 to capture my memories as best as I can for myself and for you all, a Lonely Planet guidebook to Italy, and my knowledge of the Italian language that I should probably brush up on. All that’s left is a final shopping trip (to make my wardrobe look somewhat European) and some heartfelt goodbyes before I head off on my travels!
(P.S. I’ll also put some pictures up on here once I’m in Italy!)