First off, my apologies for not doing a blog post earlier. The wi-fi was limited in Italy and I was busy soaking up every experience. Italy…Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I was going to go Italy to learn Italian. Italy has always been one of my top destinations and I was saddened by the fact that I did not get to go there on my Eurotrip last year. This was because honestly what was there not to love about Italy? Pizza? My favourite. Gelato? Amazing. Pasta? Yes, please. Italian language? Bella! The people? So kind, and hospitable…
After reflecting on this trip and getting some much needed sleep once arriving back to Toronto, I am still reminiscing. There are certain aspects of the Italian culture that I will definitely take with me. It was known that Italians are very family oriented and it was so refreshing to witness this with my homestay family. Although their family was small, every meal around the dinner table was filled with vibrant conversation. Lunches and dinners were hearty and you can taste the love made with the prima, carne and dolce courses.
The language is very beautiful and although I found the classes a bit difficult during the grammar sessions, I was able to use my little knowledge of Spanish, Tagalog and French to help translate key words in my head to help me understand. I found myself learning a lot from my homestay family and it would actually help during the classes. Of course, the use of hand gestures always helps.
Giovanni, Director of Centro Studi Italiani said at the beginning, (which really stuck with me and helped me to prepare for any cultural shock that I would experience) something like you should be mindful that there will be some aspects of Italian culture that would be different than Canadian culture. This does not mean that one is better than the other, it is just different. No ifs, ands, or buts. It helped put things into perspective and made me more respectful of some of the differences that they had; such as having stores and some restaurants closed for a few hours in the middle of the day, so it was at first difficult to find lunch, but we were able to get by.
My goals and motivations for this trip were really to take in this experience. I had never stayed with a homestay family before and I did not really know what to expect before the trip. I went into this trip with an open mind and I think that it is one of the best ways of travelling. I had hoped to be able to have a fluent Italian conversation by the end of my trip, but alas, I think two weeks is not enough time to become fluent in a language. I am now able to ask basic questions such as “what is your name?” “how old are you?”, etc., which is a lot more than I knew prior to going to Italy. I feel that this trip made me appreciate the Italian language and culture much more now. Italy is so full of history and there are so many places to visit. Our day trips to Urbino, Venice, Florence, Gubbio and final weekend in Rome were amazing.
I would definitely recommend the Italy Language and Culture Exchange Program with Centennial College and Centro Studi Italiani. I met an amazing group of people and stayed with the sweetest homestay family. The dinners with the family is something that you cannot put a price tag on. The conversations and genuine interest of everyone at the table made the experience worthwhile. I would like to thank Centennial College for this opportunity as it is something that has defined my college experience and I feel that everyone needs to do an exchange program such as this at least once in their lives.
A presto Italia. I will be back one day…