My love affair with Italy, while decidedly unoriginal, has genuinely changed my perspective on life. It began during my junior year of high school when I discovered Italian music. I “studied” the language by listening to artists like Mina, Laura Pausini, Elisa, Jovanotti, and Carmen Consoli. I took my first Italian class during my senior year and continued studying the language in college. Italian came naturally to me. Speaking Spanish as my first language certainly helped.
At the end of my sophomore year of college, in what can be most accurately described as an existential crisis, I decided I wanted to spend the rest of my life in Italy and, in turn, become Italian. I started researching Italian universities, and after considering Rome’s La Sapienza and the University of Milan, I chose to apply to the University of Bologna. I had never visited Italy, so I felt that Bologna, being much smaller than Rome and Milan, would likely be more manageable. I now find this ironic because I grew up in the behemoth that is New York City. I may have underestimated my adaptability.
In September of 2008, I packed up my life in the U.S. and moved to Bologna. I was ecstatic. I also felt quite confident about my Italian language skills. I thought I was competent. I was wrong. I quickly realized I had a lot to learn. Since I attended the University like any other student, all of my classes were in Italian. My major being political science didn’t make things easier either. I was studying international law, macroeconomics, and history, all in Italian.
Luckily, my roommate Riccardo, a native Bolognese, welcomed me into his circle of friends and I quickly became immersed in Italian social life and culture. I began dreaming in Italian a few months later, by which time, Bologna had become my home. I felt as much a part of the city as the characteristic porticos that shelter its sidewalks. I developed strong, meaningful relationships with people I still call friends. I learned to cook traditional Bolognese food. I learned to sustain myself. But most importantly, Bologna and Italy as a whole taught me how to live.
Perhaps if I had moved to Italy at a different point in time, I would still be there today. But alas, I rather foolishly moved to Italy in the midst of the global financial crisis when the dollar was worth less than half that of the euro. One year into my adventure, living in Italy as a student proved unsustainable, so I reluctantly returned to New York.
Over the years, I’ve visited Italy numerous times and always continued speaking the language with Italian friends who live in New York. Having recently relocated to Salt Lake City, I discovered the Italian Club of Salt Lake and swiftly signed up for the Advanced Conversation class taught by Kelsey. I find it incredibly fulfilling to have the opportunity to continue to practice and learn while meeting people who share the same love of Italian language and culture. ICSL has also allowed me to make friends and feel part of a community and for that, I am very grateful.