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Eileen Leaser - Le Mie Avventure in Italia (My Adventures in Italy)

When I was in sixth grade we did a restaurant project. My partner was Italian and we created a romantic restaurant where you eat on a gondola ride. This was when my interest in Italy first began. In high school, I did not have the option of taking Italian, so I took Latin. However, upon coming to the University of Arizona I had the opportunity to learn the language. I loved the department and the language. Italian quickly turned from a foreign language requirement to a minor, and then into a second major. I now study both Biochemistry and Italian. This summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Orvieto, Italy. I got to practice my language skills and immerse myself into the culture that I had learned so much about.

I arrived in Italy in the evening, but I did not want to stay the night in Rome with all my bags. So, I quickly hopped on the first bus to the train station and took one of the late night trains into Orvieto. I am amazed at the people who got to Orvieto that did not speak Italian. It was the only thing that got me to the right platform on time with the right ticket. Orvieto is not a final destination, but a stop, and it was difficult to figure out the train station while watching my bags and trying to make it on time. However, I quickly got the hang of the whole train thing. I arrived in Orvieto and was whisked to my apartment for the next few weeks. However, I did not really feel like I was in Italy yet. This changed the next morning when I explored the town with my roommates. I found the most breathtaking view and suddenly I felt like I was in Italy and I was home. Here is the view from the playground right by our apartment:

I was the only one in my apartment that spoke Italian. So, I helped out my roommates ordering and communicating. Sometimes people would give me free food and compliment me on my Italian, which made me feel like I was actually able to apply my knowledge of the language in a real life situation. My language might not have always been perfect, but I was always able to be understood.

We went on many field trips around Italy and it was more beautiful than pictures could describe. Every place was different and rich with culture. For those of you who do not know much about Italy it is divided into regions. People identify more with their region than with Italy as a whole. Every region is different and has a lot to offer. I got to explore Orvieto and its underground where they used to breed pigeons. I explored Rome and saw a church made out of bones. I fulfilled a lifelong dream of going to a soccer game IN EUROPE as I am a huge soccer fan. Here I am with Matt in front of Olympic Stadium and with Cathy in our seats:

My birthday was during my time in Italy. My landlords were so hospitable that they gave me the famous dessert of the region for my birthday along with some beautiful flowers. Italians are very friendly!!!

I visited many places on field trips and with friends including Siena, Florence, Rome, Napoli, Pompeii, Paestum, Tivoli, Pisa, Sorrento and Tarquinia. I went spelunking in a cave, had fun at an Italian carnival (not nearly as strict as America let me tell you). "knocked over" the leaning tower of Pisa, explored amazing fountains in the Villa d’Este, saw Hadrian’s Villa, went cliff jumping in Sorrento, saw many ruins, museums, got to know the people in my little town, and made many friends in the program. I watched soccer (calico in Italian) games with Italians, tried new foods including Boar and Pigeon, and had the best pizza known to mankind. I rode a gondola in Venice and I did not want to come back home. I fulfilled so many life dreams in Italy and followed this trip up with backpacking through Spain, France, Holland, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This summer changed my life and so did the people in it. Study abroad can teach you about yourself as a person, challenge you with different barriers and limits, and help you to create strong friendships around the globe. It is a rewarding experience and I encourage anyone that has the opportunity to study or volunteer abroad to take it and enjoy every minute. You will not want to come home.

Here are some photos from my trip! Enjoy!

Art made entirely of flower petals in Orvieto

Pigeon holes in Orvieto Underground

La Fontana di Trevi

Villa D’Este

Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

Playing Soccer with Italians

Dueling-Corpus Domini Festival

Knocking over The Tower of Pisa

POMPEII!!! I have always wanted to see this place

Carnival in Italy

The Grotto in Sorrento

Coming down natural slide in cave

Trying Pigeon-a delicacy (expensive!)

A gondola in Venice