One Week in Italy… Must I Ever Leave?

Written by tracytanner June 1, 2021

Ciao to all from across the pond. I have been on the Istituti Filippin campus for just over a week now and still feel as if I am seeing things for the first time. Our campus is nestled in the quaint town of Paderno del Grappa, Italy. I open the shutters in my bedroom and am still overwhelmed by the astonishing backdrop of Mount Grappa, the fifty-foot trees, and the songs of the many birds that also call this place home. There truly isn’t a more surreal atmosphere for study than the walls that I now live among.

In one short week… oh, how much I have learned! The coursework that I have partaken in thus far has been engaging and unique. I have studied the global economies and consumerism in Italy and China as well as having been absorbed in great discussion about US law cases and principles. In contrast to my learning experiences back in the states, the nature and attitude of the professors and students alike truly nurture an intimate yet extensive learning experience.

Alongside my academic studies, I have engaged in many “once in a lifetime” experiences! Those including but not limited to: pasta making in Paderno with Luca (who now owns his family-owned business, the place his mother taught him how to make pasta), pizza making with the enthusiastic Mr. Saveria (which was quite delicious if I may add), a “survival Italian class” with Professor Michela Marin (which was properly named indeed), a wonderful trip to Bassano (a place so beautiful, you may not believe your eyes), and many more.

I have learned a lot about myself in this past week through these experiences. I wanted to include one major lesson I learned from the Italians. My favorite Italian words as of today: Ciao bella, gratzia, gelato, Buongiorno, prego, and scusi! I love the way their words flow between the letters like a gentle but powerful stream. Italians speak with such purpose and intent, a lack of laziness that I see in my speech back in the States. Italians also don’t just speak with their words, but also with their tones, body language, and hand gestures, creating almost a poetic, playful display of emotions and feelings. I am amazed at their ability to speak multiple languages and transition between the two. I see persons shift effortlessly between dialects with the ability to relate to myself and others. Language is an art form and a way of sharing in one’s culture.

This past weekend, my fellow travelers and I voyaged to the epicenter of culture and the arts: Florence, Italy! Florence was indeed a hub of bustling Italians, great works of art (The David and The Duomo), and many (MANY) stairs! Being a few of the first Americans to explore Europe since the pandemic began, I believe we were blessed with a truly unique experience of Italian immersion and cultural exchange. The streets buzzed with Italians grateful for the space to learn about their own history.