The "Studying" of Study Abroad

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Today, I ended my fifth week of school in Italy! Going back to school, felt for shortage of words, weird. I didn't think I would say this, but six weeks was a little to long for a winter break. When I left to Italy, My friends at TCU were in their third week of classes and their schedules were starting to pick up. Now, they are on Spring Break, while I just barely started classes! (Or so it feels) One night at dinner, we sat by two other other girls studying aboard. They shared that their program started in January, and they ended the last week of April. I would much rather had done that, then end    the program in May. But what am I even complaining about?!? I'm studying aboard in Italy and traveling Europe on the side. 

The school I am attending in Italy is called Lorenzo de' Medici which is an international school here in Italy.(we call it LDM for short) Most of the people I have met in my classes are American, but there are a few exceptions! Below, are the classes that I am taking this semester to ensure you I am "studying." One of the reasons I choose Florence, over London, was the class selection. I felt LDM's selection had better options for the credits I needed filled (mostly electives). So, keep that in mind when reading about my classes. 

1. Wine and Culture
On Monday night, I have this class to start of my school week. During the day on Monday I like to use my free time to work on homework, laundry, errands,  and the occasional Netflix. (I know, I know but how cute is Fuller House??)You can say this class makes Mondays a little more bearable. In the class, we go through the different regions in Italy and talk about the wine in that region. During the class period and discussion, we try four different types of wine. Usually, we try two white/sparking wines(my personal fave) and two reds. As we are tasting the wine we do an analysis of the wine. This is a lot harder than you would think!! Our teacher is very knowledgeable, and can easily be the wine has this fruit or that spice......... me not so much! For our final, we will be given a wine and have do an analysis on our own. Our teacher also gives us wine/travel advice and says, "Listen to Uncle  Giancarlo." He is a big advocate for slow travel, he tells everyone that our trips are too fast! Whether or not I'll become and expert in wine, I do enjoy the class and learning me about wine. I always think of how much Anita would love this class!

2. Elementary Italian
Well, every time I refer to this class I call it Spanish class of that tells you how it's going. My friends laugh so hard, because I'm not even joking when I say it! I just say Spanish class instead of Italian. I have caught my myself of a few times and actually called it Italian. (well once, but it still counts!) Madi gives me a "look" every time, but it still doesn't register that I called it the wrong name! Maybe because I get some serious déjà vu of Señora Cepeda's Spanish class while I'm in Italian class. Despite calling it the wrong name, I managed to get an "A" on the first quiz, so hopefully this streak continues! Our teacher can speak English, but pretty much only speaks to us in Italian. I wasn't expecting this, but I'm getting used to it now. Though, I would love to see the faces I make in this class, I probably give her a lot of confused looks! The cultural difference is also fun to talk about during the class.... we even taught her what PDA meant. (Which there is a lot of PDA in Italy!) Another funny moment is when we were talking about the alphabet. The letter "J" is not in the Italian alphabet, and one girl asked "What about Jesus... in the Bible?!?!" Our teacher found this funny, and said she would never forget the girl's expression! This is my only class on Tuesday and Thursday. Since I have it twice a week, the class is only an hour and fifteen minutes verse my once a week three hour classes. I feel having the class twice a week, makes it easier to learn. Though I can't say I can speak Italian, I usually get to self-conscious to try it out!

3. Palaces of Florence
 I start off Wednesday morning in this class, then have two more classes until 5:30. There is a thirty minute break in between each class, since the building are spread out between the city. Three classes can make for a long Wednesday, but I would rather go back to back to back because it keeps me busy. I originally was not in this class. I was in 20th Century Design and Architecture, which I was excited about! Once I was in the class, I realized I was the only Education major in a room of Interior Design majors. We had to fill out a paper of out information and on the last page, we were asked to draw a tree. After looking at everyone else's tree, I knew the class wasn't for me. Thankfully, there ended up being an opening for Palaces of Florence and I didn't have to wait to take my Fine Art credit when I got back home! This class is exactly what you think it is about, Palaces in Florence. We spend half the class discussing a certain place, and the second half visiting the place! I love how we get a chance to go visit what we are talking about! I feel like it helps you make more of a connection to what you are learning.  Also, I feel more awake walking around than sitting in a dark classroom looking at power point slides! Another plus, it that I'm getting to visit places that aren't usually on my radar and even some places that were! It's like being a tourist exploring Florence, but also getting the class credit!

4. Food Of Italy
My second class on Wednesday, is Food of Italy. It's a good class to breakup more of the two lecture based classes I have on Wednesday. It also works out, because I have this class during lunch time! Yummy! The class is similar as to my wine class, since we are learning about different regions of Italy and the food/ingredients that come from that region. We start off each class learning about a different region then cook a dish that comes from that region. We one week will cook more of a main dish, and then the next week we will cook a dessert and so on. Our teacher ( who is nice, but then can also be intimidating), will show us how to make the dish. There is also a helper, who gets the ingredients together or helps us while we are cooking. There are three kitchen classrooms for our school. Two are in a school building, and the other is in Mercato Centrale, the central market here in Florence. There is a market on the bottom floor, and the top floor was recently renovated into different restaurants. (like an American food court, but the food is 10x better.) The kitchen is in one of the corners on the second floor. The wall, and doors are glass, so many people will look inside during our lesson or take pictures. It's funny to watch people's expression.... I sorta just want to wave at them! There are also small lockers by each of the kitchens because we have to wear a chef outfit! (hat included!) Wearing the outfit can sometimes feel silly, but it also makes you feel official. This class is my favorite so far, and it will probably stay that! My cooking partner, Emma, is also from TCU! I'm glad I have her to cook with, because I would be more self-conscious with someone I didn't know! We definitely have some laughs! I'm slowly becoming a better whisker, but my chopping skills are still sub-par. They also make it easy, because they have most of the ingredients out and measured for you. I guess the real test will be when I try the dishes out at home!

5. The Italian Grand Tour: Italy Through the Eyes of Famous People
This is my last class on Wednesday! We talk a lot of travel writings and different grand travelers. Grand travelers would travel to different places, study, and bring back home goods. They would usually take this trip while they were young, before they had to work. My teacher compares grand travelers to what study abroad students. I would have never come up with that on my own, but it is so true! Our teacher also studied abroad and lived in London, so she easily relates to us in some areas. This class is similar to my Palaces of Florence, because we get to go visit some of the things we talk about. Sometimes the class is just 2 /12 hours of lecturing, and it can get real long, real quick. This week we weren't in the class room at all, but visited the Basilica of Santa Croce. This is where Michelangelo, Galileo, and some other famous Italians are buried. In one of our readings the traveler visited the same church. So, when we were inside, our teacher pointed out the places that were described in the reading!

I truly enjoy all my classes! I feel like a lot of my learning has been hands on since we get to see/experience a lot of the things we talk about it class. I have had my first round of quizzes, and they all went pretty well. In two weeks, we have our midterms. (Crazy, that we will be half way done!!) I haven't gaged our difficult my midterms will be. Either way, I can assure you that I will be studying! A lot of other study aboard students classes count as Pass/No Credit. Which means they just have to pass the class, and they will get credit for it. The grade does not factor into their GPA. At TCU, all our grades count here. So If I make an "A" here, it would be the same as making an "A" back home. 

Well, I think that covers everything for academics.... for now!


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