My five weeks in Sorrento, Italy were by far some of the best weeks of my life. I am so blessed that I got to experience real life in Italy and grew immensely as person during my time there. I was fortunate enough to live with an amazing family that took me in as if I was one of their own and they are some of the kindest, most good-hearted people I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Between the mother, father, three children, and grandmother I was never homesick, never lonely, and always had someone to practice speaking Italian with! I can truly say that my experience in Sorrento would not have been the same without them.
From my first day in Sorrento I was welcomed into the household, and the next day had orientation for school. I was amazed! The Sant’Anna Institute overlooked a beautiful beach (Marina Grande) and in the 25-minute walk to school I got to see some of the most beautiful parts of Sorrento. Each day I spent almost an hour walking to/from school, and while in the United States I would have complained about the hot weather and hills, somehow being in Italy made all my negativity disappear. This walking also helped keep some of the pounds off, because between the delicious pasta, bread, gelato, and literally just-picked fruit I know I definitely needed the exercise!
I took two classes while in Sorrento: an intermediate Italian class, and an archaeology course. While my Italian class was extremely challenging; I can say that I learned more in my five weeks in Sorrento than I did taking two years of Italian in the United States. Being fully immersed in the culture gave me a drive to learn the language that I had never experience back home, and I had the tools to practice as much as I needed. After a particularly frustrating day in class, I asked for extra help and a professor was even available to meet with me the next day to go over my problem areas. Having that extra support definitely made me feel more comfortable.
My archaeology course was probably one of the most enjoyable courses I have ever taken. A large portion of the course hours were spent traveling around to surrounding areas and observing the sites we talked about in class. Where else can you get this experience?! We traveled to Pompeii, Ercolano, Campi Flegrei, Solfatara, Cumae, and The Archeological Museum of Naples. There were only three people in my class and we had so much fun exploring these sites with our professor. I will never forget my time spent with them.
Although I did spend a large amount of my time studying and in class… I am a competitive swimmer and cherished the fact that Sorrento has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the entire world. Between Sorrento, Salerno, Amalfi, Positano, and the other surrounding cities it seemed like there was always a new beach to explore and more people to practice my Italian with! The people of Sorrento were so kind, and although they knew I spoke English they always indulged my desire to attempt communicating in Italian.
I came back to the United States a different person. I have a new appreciation for other cultures, languages, and have a bigger heart because of all the generosity and love that was shown to me while in Italy. I also enjoy have an extremely long dinner around 10 o’clock P.M., translating everything in my head into Italian, walking everywhere, driving mopeds, drinking white wine with peaches, and so many other things that randomly bring tears to my eyes. I will never forget my time in Sorrento and cannot wait to book my plane ticket back!
Erica is a student at the University of San Diego studying at Sant’Anna Institute during the Summer 2013 term.