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One year more. It's going fast. Am I taking advantage of every opportunity? You betcha.

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Posts Tagged “Italian”

An Italian Feast

I get back from class and I am exhausted. The last thing I want to do is stare at more words, and exercise my brain after the three hours of mind-numbing lecture I just went through. What to do? Nap? I’m trying to break the habit. Eat? I just ate lunch. And then I knew what had to be done.

Whip up some homemade bread, that’s what. Retrieving my copy of Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Italian Cooking” I found the recipe for Foccaccia, a traditional type of bread. So, in a break between classes I was kneading flour, yeast, water, and a touch of olive oil into a ball. I let it rise while I was in class, and when I returned it was ready to throw in the oven.

The bread was pretty tasty in my opinioin, and it will supply some great sandwich bread for the next week, but more than anything it was a wonderful catharsis. For a few minutes I could take my mind of the responsibilities of my final semester at Butler University and slap a wad of dough against a table (it’s part of the kneading process, fer serial).

Fun With Words

What is it to study abroad for a semester? My good friend Marcello summed it up as “fun with words.” I agree completely.

Let’s unpack this. Words are not considered fun by many people. They can be clumsy, large, difficult to remember, and ultimately unfit to express what one feels or thinks. This is the view of someone who has never truly experienced F.W.W. Language becomes burdensome, associated with school and grammar lessons with a stringent Ms. Wormwood (or some such curmudgeon).

Here’s how I’ll explain my experience: when I decided to take a semester off from my English major to study Italian my reasoning was that I would be taking a break from the routine. Which I did. What I didn’t expect was how it would circle back to my love of letters.

In learning a language I inevitably reflected on my own. The language to which I had become so habituated through (ironically) my studies in literature and writing came alive to me in a new light. Looking at my own abilities in the language, I note a few places lacking: primarily my vocabulary. To amend this, I will commence a study of GRE vocabulary (a two-birds-with-one-stone sort of deal) and also utilize freerice.com, a website with a good use and good cause.

The next time you are trying to express yourself, take a moment to appreciate the miracle of language and what it accomplishes for us. In this way, it may be a bit harder to misuse this tool. In the words of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the pen is mightier than the sword. YouTube Preview Image

Classes Registration: It’s Great to be a Senior

I registered for my classes this semester, and man am I loving my future senior status. For instance, I registered in the first time slot available (thanks to the Honors Program) and I felt like I was holding all of Butler University in my palm. Thankfully, my crazed fit of power was short lived. I really should never be in a position of ultimate power…what am I saying, no one should!

In these, my final two semesters at Butler University, I will be taking advantage of everything that Butler has to offer me. For instance, I will be taking two independent studies, one for literature and one for Italian literature. When I relayed this information to my friend who goes to a state school in South Caroline that has upwards of 30,000 students, he was amazed by the idea of working one-on-one with a professor for a semester.

Besides these, I will be immersing myself in a broad array of subjects. I have the time because I am quite ahead of my schedule for graduation. I have signed up for a class that will have me teaching creative writing in a local school, one that will teach me advanced techniques of HTML website design, Chinese (it seems about time to start in on my second language), and I’ve got my fingers crossed for ballroom dance. (The video below illustrates what I expect my life to be like with ballroom dance. YouTube Preview Image

Dream On

I was sitting in my old Italian class in the United States with my Professoressa Lucchi-Riester and all of my old class. I was charged to be back in the states, because I would be able to show off my new found skills. Unfortunately, the rest of the class preferred speaking in English. Infuriated, I turned to my professor: “Ma perche parliamo in inglese? So esaurito con questa lingua, preferirei di parlare italiano!”

Fade to black-END SCENE

It was an Easter miracle! I don’t even remember the last time I had thought about the possibility of dreaming in Italian, but it finally happened. This is significant in two manners, because I hardly ever remember my dreams. Maybe once every month, if I’m lucky. But this one came through the fog and it wasn’t until an hour after I woke up that it struck me. I dropped my toothbrush and ran through the house, rejoicing at the news.

I take little credit for it. The only thing that facilitated this was being surrounded by Italian for Easter and Easter Monday (which is a phenomenon over here that involves an extra day or two off from classes. I’m officially a fan). Maybe, just MAYBE the language is finally penetrating my subconscious and working its way from a conscious thought to a subconscious reaction, like a mother tongue.

My only fear at this point is whether to see this dream as a prophecy or not. How frustrating will it be to return to an English speaking country? Will I be continuously exasperated? For the most parts, I see dreams as generated from the subconscious, not from some outside influence. Maybe it’s just an irrational fear!…Right?

The Prob-lution

I’ll admit, that based on all of this, class became quite dull. It was not the fault of the professors, I’m the one who asked for the full-immersion semester. And I would be lying through my teeth if I said that my Italian wasn’t light-years ahead of where I started.

However, when I arrived, I was challenged heartily by my classes. Since improving myself inside and outside of class, the pace of our learning has slowed as new students have entered the class from lower levels. So here I am, two weeks before an exam that will allow me to enter the next level, and I find myself incredibly under challenged.

What I have resorted to practicing and learning Italian outside of class. What this means: I am reading Harry Potter in Italian, which is a great way to see more advanced grammar. I’m also watching films in Italian, which is great practice for understanding. But above all, my skills are put to the real test when hanging out with Italians.

 

Class: A Snapshot

It’s been an interesting ride this semester. When I got here in the spring, I could speak just about…well, nothing in Italian. Honestly, I don’t think I can even judge how far I’ve come since then, because all of the days and weeks just meld together.

One of the most interesting aspects of this semester is the difference in routine. At Butler, I’m normally throwing myself into five or six different classes with a wide range of subjects or even departments, all while keeping up with a number of activities outside of class.

Here, it’s one subject: Italian. I have four professors, but eighty percent of my time is spent with two of them. That eighty percent of the time is spent in the same classroom. In terms of outside activities, I must organize them on my own, can’t rely on a generous university to walk me through my day.

But what does this all MEAN?!?!

La Vita Del Vino: Part 3

Previously…

The most fascinating part of the weekend was later that day when she walked us through her grounds (something between a medieval castle and a renaissance villa) and taught us about her process.

She uses a grape that is unique to Toscana, one that is smaller and produces a third the amount of wine than other grapes. Her rationalization: “I drink wine, I don’t drink money.” It was a simple joke, but the meaning behind that completely floored me. A profound connection exists between the people and the food they grow, one that transcends profits.

She recognize this. She said again and again that when you eat, 70% of the material comes out as waste, unusable, unneeded. However, that 30% that stays, that can remain with you forever. She was hyper-aware of that. For that reason, when we visited, she put incredible amounts of effort into preparing our meal. As her guests, she sees an intrinsic duty in providing us with healthy, wholesome food. Once she has cooked and we have eaten, a connection is formed between us forever.

How can you not love this place, and these people?

There's a proper form that must be followed when serving wine. I have it down pat.

La Vita Del Vino: Part 2

The duchess (as we call her) taught us not only how to taste wine, but to experience it. She said, “I have this friend, God, you might know him, who gave me two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.” And those were the exact tools that we used to probe into the before-unseen depths of this “nectar of life” (Again her words).

Corno Di Vino, an amazing place

We could see the type of wine, the age of it, how it was housed, the percentage of alcohol. We could smell the bitterness, the dryness, the flavors. We could taste the dryness with our gums, the initial burst of flavor that has been mixed with the air and one’s saliva, feel the heat on the tongue, and (my favorite), the final tastes at the back of one’s throat, a faculty of the mouth I had never before realized.

Ever since I was “un bambino,” my parents have had a glass of wine with their meal. I never before understood why. “It tastes awful!” my adolescent faculties screamed in protest. But I have been given a taste of what is actual present in every glass of wine.

Part 3: The Culmination of the Weekend

La Vita Di Vino: Part 1

Do you know the difference between Italian and American culture? Well, besides the humorous videos that have delved into this topic before, I believe it is contained entirely within the realm of wine. Fo’ real.

This weekend past I made an excursion with my class—those of us studying in Perugia through Arcadia University. We traveled to an “azienda agricolo,” also known as a vineyard. The bus ride was, as usual, one beautiful view after another rushing by like clouds, yet imprinting themselves on my mind like the memories of a good friend would.

Andrew's attempt at being profound and artistic. Comment below if he even came close!

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by one of the most humorous, bashful, and profound personalities I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. She is a duchess, life-long producer and appreciator of wine, and life-philosophizer.

Read On: Part 2

Opera, It’s Still Around

The second night of theater contained a double header: “A Hand of Bridge” and “Gianni Schicchi.” The first opera was ten minutes, a succinct yet fascinating look at a pair of couples playing bridge. “Gianni Schicchi” focused on a family after a death, riddle with greed, plotting, and quite a few funny moments.

The family searches for the Will. Such greed.

“What’s it matter?” you may be asking. Why should a college age student be concerned with this kind of stuff? I’ll give you a few reasons that I’ve gathered from the past two evenings.

These events are entertaining. They are intellectually stimulating (a bit more substance to them than the Fast and Furious franchise, for instance). They take me out of my comfort zone, and force me to experience something that is appreciated and worked on dilligently by others. If this isn’t growth on the Liberal Arts level, I don’t know what is.