What was your favorite class abroad and why?
My favorite class abroad in Siena was called Flavors and Tastes. We learned about the chemistry of different foods and beverages around Tuscany. We studied wine, beer, cheese, chocolate, olive oil, and the Sienese specialty of Panforte. In every class, we got to taste test many varieties of the food we were covering that day and while it was certainly delicious, it was also really memorable. We got to visit olive oil factories, a cow farm, a hops field for beer and so many more amazing places. I learned how important food is in Italian culture and it made me appreciate my food every single day while abroad.
What is your most memorable interaction with a local in your host city?
The most memorable interaction I experienced with a local in my host city was with a man who owned a wine shop just up the street from our school. He made his own wine and liqueur and would fill any empty container we had with his wine! We would go there before dinner, after class, and fill up our water bottles with some vino and have amazing conversations with him! He made us feel so welcomed and like a true member of the wonderful city of Siena. He also spoke to us solely in Italian which taught us more about conversational Italian that most locals speak. He sold delicious wine and hanging out with him was the perfect way to end our tough days studying!
Do you have any tips for learning the language while students are abroad?
I have many tips for learning the language while abroad! If your classes are taught in the host language, I highly suggest always speaking in that language when you are in class. Every second and every sentence matters in the long run. You will start to see improvements sooner than you think! Additionally, watching Netflix either in English with Italian/Spanish/French subtitles or vice versa is a super easy extra step to mastering your language. Also, changing your phone settings to the language you’re learning will help you learn awesome vocabulary that you would never expect to learn. Learning a language is an amazing opportunity and you should take advantage of every minute you have abroad to learn more!
Kyle was a Fall 2018 Siena student from University of Oregon.