AMANDA SCOPELLITI ’20
I decided that I wanted to spend a semester abroad because I believe that traveling the world and experiencing new places is a unique form of education that is eye-opening, enriching and fulfilling. After researching a variety of study away programs all across the globe, I ended up choosing to honor my Italian roots and spend my Fall 2018 semester in Florence, Italy studying with Syracuse University.
Syracuse has a small campus called Villa Rosa that is located just outside of Florence’s city center. It consists of two academic buildings, a library and a courtyard. Villa Rosa was previously occupied by an aristocratic family, and it is unreal to be attending school in a place where upper-class Italians lived during the Renaissance. In some of my classrooms you can even see the hidden doorways where servants used to enter and exit. Villa Rosa now provides the perfect space for Syracuse Abroad students to attend lectures, meet with professors, work on class projects, and study with peers.
At school, I am taking an introduction to Italian language course, a class on Italian food and fashion stories, a course about comedy in Italy, and an architecture class about sustainable urbanism in Europe. My professors often use Florence as our classroom, and they take us on many field trips to sites around the city that are relevant to topics we’re studying in class. For example, once each week my Italian professor takes us to markets around the city where we interact with locals in their native tongue and taste test classic Italian foods such as truffle, tripe, and biscotti. These field trips allow us to learn about Italian history and culture through the city of Florence itself.
Instead of living in a dormitory or apartment building in Florence, I live with one other Syracuse University student in a homestay with an Italian family. My host mother is a sweet woman named Miranda who is in her mid-sixties and does not speak much English. My roommate and I eat dinner with her every night of the week and utilize the Italian we learn in class in order to communicate. Miranda has two children, a daughter who has two children of her own and a son, whom she spends a lot of time with. Family values are very important here in Italy, and Italian mothers often maintain close relationships with grown kids and care for the grandchildren. Living with Miranda has been an amazing experience because it has enabled me to practice my Italian speaking skills and to learn about cultural differences between Italians and Americans. For instance, one random difference I found to be rather unexpected is that Italians would not dream of eating eggs for breakfast and instead eat them for lunch and dinner. Living in a homestay has enriched my cultural understanding of Italians, and I am grateful that this is something I was able to do through the Syracuse program.
Florence itself is an incredible city, and I love living in a place that is filled with so much rich history and beautiful art. The Florence Cathedral is an amazing 600-year-old church that serves as the stunning focal point of the city, Michelangelo’s David is the most magnificently breath-taking sculpture I have ever seen, and Florence is home to many structures that were occupied members of the Medici Family, a powerful political dynasty that was founded in 1230. In addition to learning about and experiencing Florence, I have also had the opportunity to travel to a variety of different places across Italy in addition to the countries of Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, France, and Belgium. Each day that I spend in Florence and each trip that I take to a different place serves as a learning experience, and I am so happy that I got to spend this semester learning about the histories and cultures of different places around the world.