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Chiara Sforza on UMD-Summer: Italy (ENGL)

Program: UMD-Summer: Italy: Food Writing (ENGL)
Term: Summerterm 2023
Major: Psychology and Anthropology, Honors Global Communities Program

I learned that I am more able to step outside of my comfort zone than ever before. 

I also learned that no matter the country you are in, you can always find similarities between your culture and another country's culture. I gained writing skills and knowledge about how customs and food traditions can differ in other countries. These skills will allow me to write better and also better understand and appreciate people who have different cultures from my own. I also gained a professional writing credit which greatly helped me fulfill my general educational requirements. I also met many amazing new people who go to UMD and have a range of majors!

A particularly memorable experience that I had while abroad was participating in a cooking class with a woman named Carla Tomasi. 

Carla hosts a cooking class in the comfort of her own home and uses the ingredients fresh from her garden. It was an amazing experience to be able to prepare such an elaborate meal by collaborating with others and to be able to enjoy it all together at the end. We made fresh pasta, cooked zucchini and stuffed bell peppers. It felt like being in the kitchen with my own grandmother, and Carla had many interesting stories from the time she spend in London before moving back to Rome. It was nice to get both hands on wisdom from Carla in cooking, and to learn her outlook on life as well.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad:

I have multiple identities. As a woman, I would advise other students going abroad to make sure to always be in groups at night and not to wander alone for safety reasons. Also the girls in my program and I exchanged locations and contact information so that we could all reach each other in the case of an emergency. As someone who is a double major, taking a class in the summer that gives me general education credits was a huge help to lighten my credit load during the semesters and be able to graduate on time. As someone who is bilingual and speaks Spanish, knowing a romance language may help you better understand other romance languages (such as Italian) but you should definitely take the time to learn some basic phrases in the language of your study abroad country in order to be able to more easily get around.

I understand studying abroad can be scary, but the potential benefits can be huge! If you put yourself out there you'll experience things that you never even knew would be possible. However I wish I knew more Italian before going so always make sure to learn some basic phrases in the country's language so that you know how to order things, ask for directions, etc.

If I hadn't studied abroad, I would have never hiked up Mount Vesuvius and visited the ruins of Pompeii!

Instagram: @csluvs2run

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