Monthly Archives: April 2012
After you finish your last final and before you take your last group photo at Porta da Sole, we encourage you to attend one of the many events of the International Journalism Festival.
The five-day festival started Wednesday and comprises panel discussions, workshops, and documentaries, all featuring leading journalists from around the world, including the internationally acclaimed Corriere della Sera journalist Beppe Severnigni.
Every event is free, open to the public, and offers English and Italian translations.
“Already today I have had a conversation with the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer prize,” Umbra professor Antonella Valoroso said early Wednesday afternoon.
Visit the International Journalism Festival website for a history of the festival, a schedule of events, location information, and more.
Like many an Umbra student before, you may have gone a little overboard in the souvenir department and find yourself in need of extra suitcase space. Don’t worry: Those boots / that leather jacket / those 90 scarves really were an investment! And Mom and Dad will love the hand-painted spoons. One ex-studentessa who shall not be named once accidentally purchased five of those giant green (and very expensive) tins of olive oil on a field trip to an Umbrian farm, so … you can only go up from there.
Regardless, we present you with a five-step guide to sending a package through the Italian post office.
In bocca al lupo!
The post office is located on Piazza Matteotti, which runs parallel to Corso Vannucci. From the Umbra Institute on Via Bartolo, walk down Vannucci, turn left on Via Mazzini, and take another left through the wired doors. The post office is open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Step Two: Buy a Box
marked and located to the left of the register.
Step Three: Prepare the Package
Step Four: Take a Number
Under the “biglietti” sign, take a number for “spedizione e ritiro lettere e pachi.” Then you wait: Watch the registers for your number. The post office is generally busy, so anticipate a 15- to 30-minute wait. Bring a book or a friend (or a Mauro).
Step Five: Send Your Package
Once your number flashes on the screen above the register, take your package. The post office employee will weigh your package and give you a green customs slip on which you will check if it’s a gift (regalo), documents (documenti), business goods (campione commerciale), or other (altro). Next, describe its contents and weight. You can write in English. When finished, sign and date the bottom of the slip. Finally, you’re done! Your package will arrive anytime between three weeks or three months, so don’t be concerned if you have to wait, Italy-style.
Umbra’s studio at Via dei Priori came alive Tuesday afternoon for the art classes’ final show. The hallways buzzed as students, instructors, and staff wandered from exhibit to exhibit, carefully balancing wine and appetizers.
One room featured larger-than-life frescoes painted on entire walls, ancient Roman style; another contained drawings with dramatic charcoal sweeps of anything from nudes to Toms. Students from the digital photography course displayed their work in slideshow form, showcasing their adventures across Europe.
Umbra students, faculty, and staff trooped down to l’aula magna – the great hall – of an old monastery in the center of Perugia on April 16 to listen to literary readings by the students of “Italy of the Imagination: Creative Non-Fiction.” The audience laughed, sighed, and cheered at the chronicles of Americans’ experiences in the bel paese, which ranged from a set of profiles of distinctive characters met on an Italian beach to the typical travel misadventures to a less-typical public encounter with dog excrement.
“The reading itself and the thought of having to present work to the public helps students see their work in a different light so that, even moments before the reading, new revision possibilities will come to them,” explained instructor Cynthia Clough, who has taught writing courses at Umbra for seven years. “Usually there are beautiful surprises for me as a teacher during the readings, (like) stories that were not quite finished when I read them earlier in the term suddenly coming to fulfillment at this grand finale. It is always beautiful to see this happen, and this is why I find the reading so important – it connects a student’s voice and vision to the larger community. …
“Both experiences — putting together an anthology and reading before the public –help writers see their work in relationship to a broader public reading and therefore help them understand its purpose and value more,” Clough concluded.
After the last student finished her story to roaring applause and personalized signs, class and audience marched side by side to the nearby Pizza e Musica for congratulations, pizza, and drinks.
This is another post taken from the blog of Umbra student Maria Papapietro, who studies here through the study abroad provider CIS. Her blog, La Vita e’ Bella, is a great example of a student’s study abroad experience in Italy.
This past Tuesday, I had my final presentations for both my “Family Project” and my education internship. Several groups from different classes presented their experiences, research, etc. on the same day. We made our way to a beautiful auditorium to talk about what we’ve learned this semester. After a special prayer with my presentation group, a hug from my Italian family (who were there to cheer us on), and a thumbs up from my mom, I approached the panel with Leti to talk about our experiences with the Vigneri family. As I looked out at the crowd of people I’ve grown to love immensely, it hit me. Sometimes, we can’t express our feelings adequately.
Yes, I blog. But recently, words are failing me. When I looked out, I didn’t see a crowd. I saw my classmates giving smiles of support. I saw my favorite staff members. I saw my life here. Dramatic? Maybe a little. But it’s the truth.
This week, I had the blessing of introducing Mom to the people here who are so special to me. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “your mom is amazing!” It was interesting to have my “worlds” collide in a sense. Home in the United States meets home in Italy. Jules met the Umbra staff members who have taken wonderful care of me. She met the friends whose apartments I frequent. I can’t describe how amazing that felt.
I am always amazed by how quickly I can make very close friends. During one late night conversation with my roommates, someone described study abroad friendships as relationships in hyperdrive. I couldn’t agree more. January is like freshman year of college. Everyone is still figuring each other out, and relationships are beginning to form. February (sophomore year) is when the foundations start to happen. People shift around, and homesickness and difficulties can arise. March (junior year), the incredible bonding really takes place. And when April finally hits, you look back at the last four months, the four months that seemed like a lifetime when you landed in Rome on that January morning, and wonder how on earth you will ever live without seeing each other every day.
Later, I will post about specific people. But for now, I am thinking of my Umbra group at large. And what a special group it was.
Try summarizing THAT.
Again, Maria’s blog can be found at: http://lavitaebellamaria.blogspot.it/
This past week two of the the courses of the Food Studies Programset out to actually see (and eat!) the food that they
had been learning about. On Friday the “Business of Food in Italy and Beyond” visited two olive oil production faciltiies: the first was Costa d’Oro, a huge export-oriented olive oil company near Spoleto. One of Costa d’Oro’s export area managers, Fabiano Benedetti Valentini, gave the students a presentation on Costa d’Oro’s wide range of products and described how each had a specific market and marketing strategy, as well as taking the students on a tour of the plant later. After a tour around Spoleto’s center led by Umbra professor Cynthia Clough, he group went on to Il Frantoio in Trevi, the heart of Umbria’s olive oil area. Irene Guidobaldi showed the students around the much-smaller plant and described the difficulty of exporting to the US by small producers.
Both of us Umbra students, Jenna Snelgrove and Emily Pietrzak have always been interested in volunteering. So when the opportunity came up to volunteer at the local fair trade store, Monimbò, we both jumped at it. Neither of us had ever had much experience with fair trade besides maybe hearing the words from time to time, never connecting what they really meant and how important they are to be aware of. Being able to work in a store that sells only fair trade items from producers all around the world connected us to this “altro mercato” where the workers making these products are treated fairly and paid an honest living wage. Finding out about the ways in which workers worldwide are abused and paid pennies for their work is a serious social issue that needs to be talked about and addressed, and this volunteer opportunity certainly opened our eyes and encouraged us both to pursue this issue further in the future.
So, once a week for the past few months, we would head on over to Monimbò, and help out around the shop. We usually interact with Paolo, who does not speak any English, and he would give us our tasks for the day. Usually our duties would consist of helping out around the shop such as creating customized bomboniere for customers, stocking shelves, and overall making sure the store stays in tip-top shape. Being forced into a situation with strictly Italian has definitely been a learning experience. It has certainly been a challenging one, especially for Emily who has just started out Italian–mamma mia!
But having an opportunity such as this where English is not an option has helped improve our conversational understanding and speaking skills immensely. We conversed often with Silvia, another volunteer at Monimbò who also owns her own fair trade store in Assisi. Talking with Silvia was one of the things we looked forward to every week, because we were able to chat comfortably about a variety of things and not feel intimidated about speaking the language with a native-speaker. This practice proved extremely useful for us, and also gave Silvia an opportunity to practice her English on us in return!
Being involved in Monimbò gave us a much more well-rounded experience at Umbra because it allowed us to be present in the society of Perugia, outside of school. We were able to interact with locals and feel as though we were giving back to the community that we love being surrounded by every day. One of the most beneficial aspects of this volunteer opportunity was being able to use the language we learned in class and put it into practical use to discuss one of the most prominent social issues we have today. Overall, Monimbò is a small shop with a lot of heart that has given both of us a sense of being more present in society here in Perugia, and introduced us to the idea and the hope that “un altro mondo è possible.”
Last night marked this semester’s Preparing to Go Home Workshop, an hour long session where students are encouraged by staff and those who’ve “been there, done that” to enter the mindset of what it will be like to go home. After four months of incredible new experiences, full of difficulties and growth, study abroad students often underestimate the “going home factor.”
They adapt quickly to their new environment abroad and settle in just before it’s time to uproot and head Stateside again. The workshop is designed to discuss the particular challenges ahead upon their return home and the complexities and often confusing (but very normal) emotions that go along with reverse culture shock. Students are given information and tools on ways to integrate their experience into their future and how to translate what they’ve accomplished into marketable resume material. And of course, Umbra staff also discusses how to cope with, find support networks, and process the last (and arguably the hardest) part of the study abroad experience; returning home.
It tells you something when you look up a pizzeria on Wikipedia and it doesn’t have its own page, but but appears under the rather larger subheading “History of pizza.” This is the case for Pizzeria Brandi, the neopolitan pizzamakers that are heralded as having created the classic pizza margherita: tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil.
Last week, we had a blog post about the Amalfi coast trip that Umbra organized, but we just got a copy of the picture of Amy Larson putting a pie in the oven. The only problem is that she’s suspiciously good at it; as anyone who’s gone to the Umbra pizza workshop [YouTube video] knows, pizza all’italiana is not the easiest thing in the world to make. Maybe she’s been practicing? Either way: Amy, that is awesome.
The following post was written by current Umbra student Maria Papapietro, who is currently studying in Perugia through CIS. We also recommend highly that you read her entire blog, La Vita è Bella, which gives a honest and positive perspective on the study abroad experience.
I’m realizing that a lot of my writing in the coming weeks will be more for me than anyone else.