Cultural Introduction to Italy

written by Alice Hamilton for Special Project: Experiential Learning in Public Relations

Arriving in Florence for my semester abroad, I felt a mix of excitement and uncertainty. Having never left the United States before, I was eager to explore this new chapter of my life. Enrolling in a Cultural Introduction to Italy Course seemed like the perfect way to dive into the experience. For three weeks, our daily classes covered a wide range of topics related to Italian history and culture. From Italy's journey to unification to the impacts of World War II, we touched on the key moments that shaped the country. We also explored Italian cuisine, the Mafia, the economy and the influence of Italian cinema.

The course was structured for students to not only learn and retain information but also be able to utilize it during our time in Florence. Our classes were interactive, with small groups allowing for lively discussions and engagement with our professors. Italian language was integrated into our curriculum, as we would learn new phrases every class. We covered basic Italian from greetings and verb tense to grocery items and professions. Doing this helped us develop practical communication skills for daily life in Italy.

This course pushed us to practice our language skills outside of the classroom and throughout the city. Some of our assignments consisted of using our Italian in real-life settings like cafés and
restaurants. This not only improved our language skills but also deepened our connection to
Italian culture. Assessments were varied and valuable, ranging from regular homework assignments to a final project and exam. Whether it was crafting journal entries, conducting research on different regions of Italy, or delivering presentations, each task widened our knowledge about Italy.

Looking back, the course provided a solid foundation for my time in Florence. Beyond developing a deeper understanding of Italian culture and history, it provided me with a sense of connection to the city that would become my temporary home. For any student looking to immerse themselves in Italian culture and language, this course offers a rewarding and enriching experience.

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Inside the Mind of Leonardo

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