Monthly Archives: January 2009
Imagine walking into a room filled with fifty students, some of whom you may have a met a few weeks ago, but many of whom are total strangers. Then someone asks you to sit down in a group of five or six, introduce yourself, and make conversation for an hour. Now consider that only half the people in your group speak your language, while the others speak a completely different mother tongue. Sound like a recipe for one very quiet and possibly awkward evening?
Quite the opposite! Last Wednesday, sixty American and Italian students met to kick off Tandem for 2009. Every semester the Umbra Institute organizes this language exchange program as a way for students to practice their conversational Italian.
In doing so, our American students studying at Umbra get the opportunity to meet Italians friends and become more integrated within the greater international student community here in Perugia. The Italians, in turn, are always eager for a chance to practice their English with native speakers. The result turned out to be a very noisy evening, and when we finally ended the official Tandem, many students left school with new friends and headed out to Perugia’s pizzerias and cafes for dinner and drinks. Tandem is off to a great start for 2009, and see you in a week for the next meeting!
Last Sunday, students through Arcadia University were treated to a day in the Umbrian countryside as a part of their orientation. Flavio Orsini and his family continue the time old traditions of Italian farming in the town of Passignano sul Trasimeno close to Lake Trasimeno. Flavio took students on a tour of their property and of the inside of their home. There students learned about the preciousfagiolini del lago (smalls beans from the lake) and watched as his uncle demostrated how baskets are weaved. Some students even tried out their own skills under the careful eye of the expert. After the brief tour, was a lesson in pasta making. Flavio’s wife, mother-in-law and other women from the town demonstrated the traditional method of making pasta from scratch and talked about how this method is still used today.
Students then donned aprons and lent a had as well. After the pasta making, with everyone’s tummies grumbling, students feasted on a typical Umbrian meal made completely with locally grown goods. A misto di bruschettacomplete with the now infamousfagiolini del lago served as the appetizer. Homemade tagliatelle pasta with a typical Italian meat sauce wetted the appetites just enough for a trio of secondi-Umbrian sausage from Flavio’s farm, sauteed spinach and torta al testo (a dense bread typical from this region). Stomachs and minds amply full, students re-borded the bus for the short drive back to city life in Perugia.
In Photos: Signor Orsini demonstrates the Italian art or basket weaving; Umbra students enjoy the view from Flavio Orsini’s home
For once, the six hour time difference between Italy and the East Coast worked to our advantage! Yesterday afternoon, Umbra students finished up classes just in time to catch live coverage of the presidential inaguration festivities in Washington, DC. Students gathered in the lounge in Umbra I and in Professor Michael Chiariello’s classroom up in Umbra II to watch the speeches and swearing-in ceremony, and several pubs around Perugia showed the Presidential Parade and other inaugural events into the later evening. Tanti auguri for President Obama!
Formaticum, formaggio, formage, caseus, queso, Käse? Call it whatever you like, but one thing’s for sure: Cheese tastes good, lots of cheese! Last night 27 incredibly well-palated students gathered for Umbra Institute’s first cheese tasting or “degustazione di formaggi” of the year. Each region in Italy is known for its unique and specific flavors so the choices seem endless to a foreigner, and ordering can be an ordeal. To remedy that, students tasted each of them so they could know what suited their tastes. Eleven cheeses in total were nibbled, from the strong, I’m-here-on-your-palate-to stay Asiago to the subtle, creamy Stracchino.
Staff member and cheese enthusiast Paul Schiller also gave a little cheese history and provided the “cultural context” for each of the cheeses. The production of cheese is a proud tradition in Italy, from the passionate pastoralists taking to the hills with their flocks, to the deli worker who can eye perfectly the desired amount, and then cut it from a great “forma” or wheel of cheese. Thanks to all the students who came, and apologies for our cheesy jokes.
For the 10th semester, a special group of seventeen Umbra students are taking all of their classes during their semester in Perugia at the University for Foreigners, one of the oldest and most prestigious Italian language schools in the world. The University, or Stranieri as students in Perugia generally refer to the school, opened in 1921 as a language program within the University of Perugia, and classes were held in the Sala dei Notari at the Palazzo dei Priori — the very room where Umbra holds our welcome orientation meeting for all students at the beginning of each semester. The impressive Palazzo Galenga opened in 1926 as the primary seat of the Universita, with a large library, frescoed classrooms, and incredible views out across the valley. Over ninety years later, several thousand students from all over the world come to Perugia each year to take intensive immersion courses to improve all aspects of their Italian language skills. Our seventeen students studying at Stranieri arrived in Perugia several days ahead of the general studies students for their own orientation to Perugia, and during the semester they will meet with Umbra professors for weekly tutorial sessions. These meetings will be especially helpful this semester since the current group has embarked on a particularly challenging course of study. In boca al lupo a tutti!
For more information, check out Stranieri’s website: http://www.unistrapg.it/english/.
The Umbra Institute welcomed its new students for the spring semester Friday morning at the airport in Rome. After a three hour journey by bus, the students arrived at the famous Hotel Gio. In the evening students met their semester roommates as well as the Umbra staff, and everyone dined together at the hotel. Saturday morning, after a long two days of travel, the students were taken to their final destination, their apartments. In the afternoon everyone met in the center piazza for a group photo and orientation meeting at the Sala dei Notari, Perugia’s frescoed 12th century town hall. As always, special guest Chief Inspector Michele Caneschi of Florence was present and talked at length to the student body about health and safety, and how to be streetsmart in Italy. Coming out of the orientation students were surprised to witness a peace protest in the main piazza. The protests took place all across Italy, and were conducted to help bring awareness to the Israel and Gaza conflict.
This week each student will go through an intensive “survival” Italian program, where students will learn practical Italian for everyday situations. Elective courses will begin the following week. Benvenuti a tutti! We hope you all have a great study abroad experience!