Summer Abroad in Italy

I spent 4 amazing weeks in a little town in southern Italy called Lecce. During my time in Lecce, I studied the Italian language while learning grammar concepts and also participating in conversational activities designed to help me use the language.
My whole perception of Italy was completely changed throughout this journey. This actually happened to be my fourth time in Italy but it was very different from all of the other times. The first time that I was in Italy, I was with my family and we visited the famous cities in Italy such as Rome, Venice, Florence, etc. The next times that we visited, we started to visit less popular places. As we started to visit less “touristy” cities, I started to experience authentic Italian culture. This is why Lecce was absolutely amazing. My favorite part was that almost no one in the city spoke English so it gave me the perfect opportunity to really speak a language that I have been studying for years. I also got the opportunity to live with a host family who did not speak much English. This really made me use the language a lot more. They also showed me how typical Italians live, how they eat, and what they do for fun. I truly got an up close view and it was absolutely amazing.
As mentioned before, my host family was a major force in helping improve my Italian. Since their English was very limited, it was absolutely necessary that I spoke Italian. My host family also gave me a different perspective of Italy. When I arrived in Italy, I thought that for every meal I would be eating pizza and pasta. I could not have been more wrong. When I actually look back at it, I rarely ate only pizza or only pasta. The majority of the things that we ate were made with fresh vegetables and some kind of prosciutto along with cheese. I was also very impressed at how they used leftover ingredients to make their next meal the next day. They truly didn’t waste anything.
The school that I studied at was also a key role in improving my Italian. Over the four weeks that I was there, I ended up becoming really close to my teachers. The teachers also knew my exact level of Italian and ended up gearing the class towards my exact goals which helped me a lot. Not only did they give me great lessons on grammar and different vocabulary words, but they also made it a point to make our conversations interesting and applicable. The conversations were never just the normal, “What did you do yesterday?” type of questions but they were actually interesting and sparked conversations like, “If you won the lottery, how would you spend your money?”
Another aspect of my trip that helped improve my Italian was really the location. Lecce itself is actually known as the “Hidden Pearl of the South.” It definitely lived up to its name. As mentioned before, almost no one in this town could really speak English. I think that basically having a full immersion experience was the best way to really get me to use my Italian. I was also able to travel very cheaply to the surrounding towns. Having to learn a new transportation system in a new language also posed a challenge for me. However, thanks to my constant practice in Italian, I was able to overcome the challenge rather quickly and continue to explore the gem which is southern Italy.
This trip and experience was absolutely incredible to me. My overall goal in life is to become trilingual and this trip has most definitely gotten me way closer to my goal. I also think that going to a different country always improves one’s point of view. Every time that I leave the country, I end up having a more enriched view of different cultures and this provides me with different perspectives. I truly think that people who are well traveled end up having more interesting and more worldly points of view and different opinions.

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