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INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION: Education Update's Interns Travel Abroad
Studia, Mangia e Godere a Firenze, Italia

By Dominique Carson

Most people will gather around family and friends on New Year's Eve or watch the ball drop in Times Square, but I was getting ready to embark on a new journey. Before I went to church and went out to eat, I was packing and said, "see you later," or a piu tardi, in Italian, to family and friends since I was studying abroad in Italy during the month of January.

The study abroad program was organized through Queens College and a number of courses were offered for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The classes were cooking, studying wine, fashion marketing, or digital photography. But, it was a vacation as well because I was able to escape from New York's messy, snowy and rainy weather. Other students from York, Brooklyn, Queens, City and John Jay colleges and I all left the United States on January 1 and arrived in Florence between the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the next day since classes started on Jan. 4th.

I knew studying in Italy was a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us so we must enjoy our time in our new "habitat" but be accountable of our actions at all times. Italy was our home for three weeks, which means we had to adjust to the culture and way of living. Adjusting to the time difference, buying food, budgeting Italian money, passing your course, and actually communicating in Italian were all challenges for my fellow classmates and I. Since I am an Italian major, I have been reading, writing, and speaking Italian for six years so I was able to help my fellow classmates.

I decided to take the cooking course along with nine other students because I love Italian food — especially the eggplant parmesan, tiramisu, and of course the gelato. Italy is known for its scrumptious dishes so why not dig in, find out how they are made, and learn the history behind Italian cuisine. Students from the cooking courses made eggplant parmesan, fried meatballs, vegetables, bread vegetable soup, lasagna, crepes (Florentine style), cakes, cannoli from Sicily, seafood spaghetti, risotto (rice), Tuscan bread with tomatoes and basil, and many more with Professoressa Cecilia Ricci.

However, other food workshops took place such as a gelato teaser workshop at Apicius and students made lingue di gatto (the cookie, a cat's tongue) so they can eat it with their ice cream. We were able to visit a gelato restaurant called, "Il Re Gelato," (the ice cream king). At the workshop, Chef Duccio Bagnoli made three different ice cream flavors — strawberry sorbet, coffee granita with whipping cream and yellow base ice cream. One weekend, the group went to a wine tasting at Castello di Vologano in the province of Florence. Students were informed about how wine originated, the classification of different grapes, why wine is important in Italian culture, and tasted two forms or red wine and white wine. One of the most popular wines in Italy is the Chianti. Students also discovered a hamburger spot a Via De Pepi called, "Principe" (prince) and made hot dogs, fries and veggie burgers.

When the rules and regulations were addressed and class was dismissed, it was time to enjoy recreational activities. During our stay in Italy, the Student Life and Development Office took students on a tour to the Piazza Michelangelo, Piazza San'Abroggio and Piazza Ponte Vecchio. When we went walking we saw the whole view of Florence, the sculpture of David, a gelateria (ice cream shop), Galileo's house, different cathedrals, universities, markets to buy clothes and accessories, and a garden similar to the Garden of Eden. Everyone was stunned because Italy is an exquisite place. Students also attended Movie Night to watch a popular Italian film called, "L'Ultimo Bacio" (The Last Kiss). Students climbed 463 steps at Il Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore), a popular monument in Florence. The Duomo is famous for its construction (the Cupola) and its architect, Filippo Brunelleschi.

Three weeks was enough time to study for some but for me it was time to return to New York. Italy is a mind-blowing city to visit but not to live. I am a city girl at heart and I had to return to the city that never sleeps. But, in the long run I am flabbergasted I went to Italy since I am studying this romantic language and planning to teach Italian after I graduate from college. In the near future, I know everyone else and I will return to Italy to visit the southern side such as Sicily for their gelato and pasta.

I recommend everyone to study abroad because you are able to expand your horizons when you step out of your comfort zone. Furthermore, you will gain knowledge about other people's cultures. Next year, I want to study abroad in Spain or Argentina. Spain is another European country; Argentina is South American and the tango originated there. The study-abroad trip made me appreciate my home country because the media only shows you the alluring side of Italy and sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side. #

Dominique Carson is a student at Brooklyn College.



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