Why I’m So Happy to be Taking Italy Live – and Why I Think Everyone Else Should Be Too

Written by alicecruse June 4, 2024

Coming into a summer session at CIMBA out of a very busy semester, I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to delve into the culture and the language that I would be experiencing in Italy.
Fortunately for me, when I sent in my list of preferred classes, I put down Italy Live. And I am so, so glad that I did. Even barely a week in, I feel that I’m among the luckiest on campus to be a part of this class- here are my top 5 reasons why:

1. It Grants You Experiences You May Not Have Sought Out Alone

Italian is not as commonly taught and learned in the U.S. as other languages. I don’t know if I ever would have attempted to take it up on my own time, but now that I’m being made to learn it in the classroom, I’ve completely been swept up by it. I love the way it sounds, and I have become obsessed with perfecting my phrasing. They don’t call it a Romance language for nothing.
But it’s not only the language: Italy Live has afforded me other opportunities that I may never have discovered alone. The class allows students to dip their toes into Italian culture, scenery, and history, especially during the three-hour afternoon classes.
I’ve had two of these thus far: During our first, we watched an Italian movie. In the second, we took a class field trip to the beautiful town of Asolo, which was searched to take turns guiding the class through a tour. The long afternoons can be tough in some classes, but Italy Live always keeps them interesting.

2. It Puts Your Learning Into a Real-Life Perspective

I’m a student who wants to see how my learning will apply to real-life scenarios. It’s one of the biggest issues I have with language classes; it often feels like what I’m learning is only useful to me in the classroom for the sake of the grade.
The beauty of learning a language in its home country is its relevance to the surroundings. Every day, I feel like I hear a word that I learned in class just a little bit ago. I see text on a sign or a menu and can identify its meaning.
Granted, I’m still very much a beginner. But the progress in my ability to interact with the world around me is what inspires me to keep pushing myself in the class.  It’s a slow pace, yes, but it’s steady.

3. It is Super Interactive

I’m not shy, but coming into CIMBA surrounded by 300 unfamiliar faces is undoubtedly intimidating. I came into the program hoping, as I’m sure did many others, to make friends in my classes.
Luckily, Italy Live has turned out to be a class defined by its interactivity. We are constantly working with our table partners and even with our peers on the other side of the room. Once you’ve already established this familiarity, it becomes so much easier to approach those who you recognize within the classroom and outside of it.

4. It Ensures You Talk With the Locals

I love that Italy Live is taught by a native Italian professor, but it does even more than that. The class aims for every student to feel comfortable performing basic interactions in Italian, and we practice in the form of speaking with the locals.
In Asolo this past week, our goal was to successfully order at an Italian “caffè.” We had practiced for a while in class to nail how to ask for different types of coffee and gelato before it was time to go do the real thing. Our reward, of course, was delicious Italian treats.

5. It Improves Your Overall Experience in Italy

When I first landed at Venice airport, it was overwhelming to be in a place where for the first time I felt like I couldn’t even ask for basic directions in the native language. Now, not even halfway through my program, I am more adequately prepared for basic interactions in Italy. I feel more comfortable and more immersed.
Even though English is commonly spoken around Paderno, I have always held the opinion that it should be up to us travelers to at least attempt to learn the language of the land we are being welcomed into. After all, as Italy Live emphasizes, understanding a language is the gateway to understanding a culture.
And at the end of the day, I think it’s pretty amazing that when I return home, I can proudly say that I learned to speak Italian in Italy. How cool is that?!