I might just be singing that same old song, but I can’t help but push the experience of studying abroad. This past summer I had the chance to live and work in Arezzo, Italy with a UR study abroad program. Arezzo, an hour long express train ride north of Rome, is nestled in the southeast corner of Tuscany. With beautiful skies and rolling hills, one could find their paradise in this small town.With plenty of churches, cathedrals and museums, Arezzo can satisfy any casual sight seeing traveler, and with a full company of music, drama and art scenes, it is also considered a cultural heaven.
Traveling with 14 other students from UR, after a brief touring session in the bustling hub-bub of central Rome, we came to a quiet and peaceful town. While there, we worked on an archeological dig site with the renowned Dr. Mordechai Aviam. Every morning we arose at 5:30 a.m. to gobble down our Italian style breakfast of meat, yogurt, cheese and my personal favorite, Nutella. We would then head to the dig site, which was located close to a local hostel and contained what we believed to be a housing structure. After a brief explanation from Dr. Aviam, we picked up our pick-axes and went to work.
Our hard spent efforts were rewarded. Some of our finds included a mosaic floor-piece, pottery pieces, a bottom half of a jaw and a nearly complete chalice. I could honestly understand the joy and thrill archeologists feel. The experience of actually becoming part of the history recording process is something I shall not forget anytime soon.
After a second break for lunch at 10 a.m., we concluded the digging portion of the day around 12:30 p.m. so we could escape the hot Tuscan sun. After a little more glorious food from our home-stay palace, there would be a brief lecture from Dr. Aviam or a field trip to further our studies of Roman and Judaic cultures. The rest of the day was left to us, and this is where the true experience begins.
Piece of advice number one – no matter where you go, try the food. Anybody on a carb-free diet will have a big problem. Though it may sound redundant, I had some of the most appetizing pasta dishes. The local cuisine of rabbit and boar was exquisite and the fabulous wine enhanced the entrees with a delight of flavor.
Piece of advice number two – try the local customs. On the average night, people usually have a pre-dinner drink, dinner, a post-dinner drink, then spend the night strolling around town. Okay, I know what you’re thinking starts with a “bor” and ends with an “ing,” but I beseech you to try it.
Piece of advice number three – go to the local events. My classmates and I were fortunate to be in Arezzo during the famous Arezzo Wave. The Wave is an annual concert where artists world-wide converge to showcase their works to the audience. We had chances to hear artists ranging from classical, to rock, to techno. Another exciting event I had the opportunity to experience was the World Cup. Spread throughout the city, large screen projectors were set up in the piazzas, gigantic sheets were spread over cathedral walls and every television in town was tuned to the same channel. One could quite literally walk around in the city and not miss a second of the action.
After spending just a bit more than a month in such a beautiful place, with even more beautiful women, coming home and getting reused to the customs of my “home” culture took a bit more work than I thought it would. The actual experience of living in a foreign country, in my own personal opinion, is an experience every student should have. A situation where, in order to adapt to a new environment, one needs to put aside some of themselves. Have the tenacity and courage to take a step outside your comfortable environment. Happy traveling!
Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.