Name: Matthew Hayes
Location of Study: Sorrento, Italy
Program of Study: Sorrento Lingue
Sponsor(s): Mimi Ravarino
A brief personal bio:
I’m a Long Islander, huge fan of Billy Joel and an avid beach volleyball player who isn’t afraid to spike the ball. At Notre Dame, I study PLS and Italian, live in Keough Hall and am a member of the Student Union Board. My favorite book is “The Godfather”, favorite song is “Vienna” by billy joel and favorite television show is “Survivor”. My favorite dining hall item is chicken cordon bleu. Lastly, if I had to choose one super hero to be I would pick Captain America.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
This SLA grant is important to me because I want to become fluent in Italian. In the spring semester, I am going to be studying at the University of Bologna. I am going to Italy this summer to improve my italian in anticipations of the challenges I will face in the spring as well as make my transition into a legitimate italian university. I also would like to write my final thesis on Dante so my increased knowledge in Italian will help me be able to read Dante untranslated. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow in the beautiful city of Sorrento.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
I want to get everything I can out of this amazing opportunity. I want to make new friends in a foreign country, I want memories that will last a life time. I want to learn as much as I can about souther italian culture and how my ancestors lived back in Italy in the 1800s and prior. I also would like some awesome recipes that I can try to convince my mom to try and make. I plan on doing everything I possibly can in the city of Sorrento. I am going to try new foods and experiences and maybe step outside of my comfort zone.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to speak, read, write and listen at a level of proficiency equal to two semesters beyond my current Italian coursework placement at Notre Dame.
- I will be able to speak in italian to native speakers on various topics casual as well as academic.
- I will also be prepared and confident in my ability to strive at the University of Bologna.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
I am going to take a total of 45 hours of Italian class and 45 hours of internship. I also am doing home stay where I will be living with a native italian. I will go on as many excursions as possible to truly take full advantage of my time in Italy, hopefully I will be able to see the ruins of Pompei and the amalfi coast. I also keep hearing about how beautiful Siena is so i feel the need to travel there for a weekend. I am also taking an opera class this semester so it will nice to watch a true Italian opera and appreciate it so much more fully. As an outgoing person, I will have no problem striking up conversations on the beach or at the cafe. I plan to fully take advantage of this amazing experience that I have been granted.
Reflective Journal Entry 1:
It’s the night before I fly off to Italy and I am filled with anxiety, excitement, fear and joy. I am hoping all of my italian lessons will come back and the various verb tenses will not be forgotten. I am ready for confusing miscommunications and asking for people to repeat what they said. I am ready for awkward pauses, misremembered words and mistakes. It is going to be an adventure and I am ready for it. I have created a flickr to share photos with you and it can be accessed at this url: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_hayes_italy/. Thank you for reading my blod and feel free to leave a reply.
Reflective Journal Entry 2:
Sorrento is a beautiful city with so much to offer. Just walking around there is a mix of ancient ruins, modern shops and sentimental graffiti saying such phrases as “te amo” e “sei tutti”. I am kind of confused why someone would use graffiti as a means of expressing your love. A problem i did not expect to encounter was that most of the people here especially those in the restaurants and shops speak english. When they see you are struggling or unsure of your italian they will immediately switch to english to make you more comfortable. I need to resist the urge to fall back to english especially when i feel that i am unable to express myself in italian. My host family are tri-lingual so she speaks to me in a mix of english and italian depending on whether it seems like I am comprehending. I am trying to slowly lessen the amount of english that i use. Tomorrow, i have my first day, interning at the law office which is sure to be an interesting experience since the lawyer does not speak any english. Luckily, I have relied on my personality before so let’s see how it goes. In my medieval literature class, it is fun to use my PLS knowledge to discuss different authors but i discovered that italians and americans have different names for these authors. Boethius for example is Boazio. It is funny when my teacher and I try to figure out the english word for an italian word that he used or an italian word for an english word that I used. I’m having a great time and am learning a lot of italian.
Reflective Journal Entry 3:
quick update. working at the law firm has been an interesting adventure. The lawyer doesn’t speak a lot of english but tries to communicate to me in english while i try to communicate with him in italian. there have been a few miscommunications of me not being at the right place or showing up early but i am okay with that. I have been reading up on the penal system in italy and also have looking into a few specific cases that are going on currently where hopefully i will be able to go into the courtroom and witness them. In itay, all of the decisions for civil and smaller cases are written in a book for the lawyers to see. On monday and friday mornings, we go to the tribunale, to see if our cases have been decided on. I found it interesting that juries are only called on murder and large cases and th juries are referred to as judges and are unable to get out of it if called. there is also 2 actual judges on each juries.also, the honor laws are interesting. It is illegal to offend someones honor in public. today i am going snorkeling but i forgot my camera at the apartment so i will probably just steal someone elses photos from facebook.
Quick facts i have learned:
Some of the toliets don’t have seats on them outside of the home. especially those in restaurants.
All elevators list the first floor as 0.
French and russian people cannot understand my english but can understand every other american here, i don’t think anyone is surprised by this fact.
Napolitans tend to drop the last vowel of words.
Reflective Journal Entry 4:
Weekend Review,Friday i ended up going snorkeling with some friends but the snorkel and i did not get along so i just wore the masks and the fins and dove down. the sea is colder than in new york but much clearer and brighter. We saw some beautiful cliffs and rock formations. Saturday we tried to go to a beach close by but got on the wrong bus. Unfortunately we ended up in the town of Positano. For those who don’t know Positano is this beautiful town on the top of a cliff that overlooks the sea and has beautiful beaches. Randomly a few other Sorrento Lingue students showed up but unfortunately i did not bring my camera thinking we were just going to a small rocky beach. I think though next weekend we are going back so i am sure to take pictures then. The only downside to Positano is trying to walk back up the cliff to get to the bus. It’s a hike and takes a little bit but eventually we made it and my legs were exhausted. Sunday we decided to take a day trip to Napoli. Most of the shops and restaurants were closed due to it being Sunday but the architecture of the main area was beautiful. The galleria was my favorite part with its beautiful columns and unique sculptures. Everywhere we turned were these amazing buildings and columns. Napoli though smelled and was a little dirty. We also got loss on the way back but it was a busy weekend. Also my cameras battery was dead so i’ll have to steal my friends photos on facebook and move them to flickr.
Reflective Journal Entry 5:
My internship at the law office has been completed and it has been a very interesting experience. It started with, one of the administrators coming with me to the law office, and litterally i sat that in awe as the lawyer and the administrator, went back in force in rapid italian explaining what the internship was and what i would be doing. The first day we went to the justice of the peace, to look up the results of a few court cases. In Italy, the results are not told in court but a few days after in a sort of legger. Some have explanations next to the results while others don’t. Another day, i told the dolling out of court dates. My favorite part was when the judge literally took off his robe, and started giving out espressos to all of the people in the court. I also was able to watch an actual trial in process. It was interesting because the court room was open and they did multiple cases in one day where all that would happen is documents would be handed to the judge who would then read them. Sometimes there was a testimony where the judge and both lawyers ended up examining the witness. It was also weird because the people in the courtroom were talking while the proceedings were going on, which was different from what i came to expect from American law. Lastly, when a case actually goes to trial is sometimes 2 years after the offense. Also, italy is very big on honor laws were you are not allowed to publicly yell slurs at people. I had a lot of fun, when my lawyer would give me the legal documents and i would read up on the various codes the person was accused of breaking. All in all the internship was a lot of fun and now I begin my conversation class.
Reflective Journal Entry 6:
Weekend Update number 2: Friday I spent all day at the beach tanning and swimming it was great. Saturday i toured the amalfi coast and visited various cities including Positano, Ruffalo and Amalfi. The sights were beautiful as well as the churches that we visited. The tour guide though spoke very softly and had no control of the group. Also the buses had to travel on the edge of cliffs and it was a little bit scary. Sunday we went to Capri which was beautiful and we hired a private boat to show us around that our host mom suggested for us. He brought us to all of the little grottos and let us swim through the grotto verde which was beautiful and a lot of fun. The water was so clear and beautiful it was ridiculous. We also took a cable car to the top and saw some amazing views. The grotto azzuro would have been cooler if we could have swam in it and also if i didnt almost lose my head going through the entrance. Pictures should be up on flickr soon.
Reflective Journal Entry 7:
Trains are difficult in Italy, they don’t arrive on time, there are no conductors to take your ticket and tell you if you are on the correct train or give you directions. Also, Italian trains tend to strike often during the middle of the day as to not interfere with the businessmen going to and from Naples. Last Wednesday, myself a friend and her roommate attempted to go to Paestum in an afternoon, which has the oldest preserved Greek temple. The trip though required us to transfer in Pompeii and go to another train station in Pompeii. Here, I have been trying to be less of a control freak and go more with the flow. We ask for directions from the man selling tickets at the train, he points right but says the world “sinistra” meaning “left”, a few too many times to leave us a little confused. Couple this with the fact that the directions we hadn’t gotten from friends at school said to make a left out of the train station. For the record, I did not hear a first hand account of the directions from our friend at school. My friend and I both felt that the guy was clearly indicating right but my friend’s roommate felt sure it was left so we went with that option and the various tourists that we asked along the way didn’t tell us differently until we got to a dead end and a souvenir shop pointed us completely back to the beginning. I learned here that the New York speed walk is not a universal speed. Unfortunately we missed the train and would have had to wait three hours to get on another train to Paestum so we decided Salerno sounded like a cool option. Salerno has a really nice port with tons of sailboat. We also stumbled upon the prettiest chapel that I have seen. It is called Porta dei Leoni which was this intricately designed room with floor to ceiling paintings of various religious figures. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed but my friend accidentally took pictures before hand so ill load them on flickr once the first of the month comes around. In the Porta dei Leon, women were reciting the rosary in Italian which was an extremely humbling experience. The amount of veracity and emphasis these woman put into their recitation was fascinating. I don’t know if it was because it was in a separate language but it was very moving. So an unexpected trip to Salerno turned out to be very rewarding.
Weird thing though, Mets clothing seems to be trendy in Italy as I have seen it in various store windows. It’s a little sad.
Finding Nemo in Italian is hilarious although I didn’t understand any of the dentistry terms, I enjoy how Dude is translated as Bello.
Reflective Journal Entry 8:
Since 7th grade Latin class I have been fascinated by Rome. This ancient city has done so much in the world has such a rich history, from gladiator fights, to chariot races, from Cicero to Julius Caesar. I have read and learned so much about it that I was excited to get a small preview of it before I return in the spring visiting the architecture majors and definitely seeing even more. We took a 6am train in to Naples and got to Rome around 9:30 and we couldn’t check in to our hotel until 12 so we decided since the coliseum and forum were close by might as well check them out. We arrive at the coliseum and all that you see are the arches going around. We entered inside an immediately I try to complete in my head the picture of what this would have looked like back them. The coliseum clearly was an inspiration for many of our football and baseball stadiums and it was obvious why. The arches and hallways made you get excited for what was going on inside. Looking around I tried to imagine what the stadium must have looked like full with a naval battle going on below. I kept making comparison to football Fridays at Notre Dame and the mass celebration and disappointment. I loved the mixture of ancient ruins and modern buildings throughout Rome. On a street you can pass a ruin of a temple and then someone’s house is right next door.
I’m a big fan of fountains and statues I’ve decided. Besides my instant relaxation upon hearing running water, I am fascinated by how the fountain has become a hangout and meeting spot. These beautiful pieces of art are so multipurpose to the city its ridiculous. They are art, landmarks, water sources, hang out zones, and meeting points. The trevi fountain is even better in person especially at night when it is less crowded. The churches also were so beautiful to walk through and really enjoyed how shoulders had to be covered. Although it at first seems like a hassle, it helps all be reminded of the sanctity of the space. In a lot of the churches I stopped talking pictures and just looked around. I knew at a certain point that no picture could possibly replicate what I was seeing. The first day consisted of simple walking and common tourist spots like the Spanish steps, the large white building that I can’t think of the name of, the pantheon: which was intricate and I really enjoyed the repurposing of a roman mythological temple to a Christian sanctuary. My Medieval Literature professor keeps stressing how Dante is not about erasing the pass but altering it to suit his needs. I feel like this is a very Roman thing to do. Many of the ancient temples were converted into churches. It kept the sanctity of the space and just repurposed it, which kind of increased the importance of the building.
The Second Day we toured the Vatican, which was a breath taking experience but unfortunately “Il Papa” decided not to show up. We started by climbing the Duomo, which gave us a view of St. Peter’s Square as well as the entire city of Rome. The walk was a little scary with the staircase getting narrower and narrower and at one point the railing turned into a rope. The views though were incredible. St. Peter’s Square and Basillica were pretty empty since we got there at 9 in the morning so it was amazing just to walk around and take in the sights. I can’t imagine how cool the square would be filled with Catholics waiting to hear the good news. It must be a moving experience. We then went to the Vatican museum which although we barely had to wait to get in was so crowded that I felt rushed through it. We probably should have started at the museum and then done the basilica. The museum though was fascinating and I enjoyed how some of the most iconic paintings and artwork were solely created for this space. In other museums your paintings are nicely placed in frames but here the walls are filled with paintings. I enjoyed seeing the academy painting, which was a favorite of Doc Caliendo my high school latin teacher as well as St. Ignatius of Loyola, the first Jesuit. The Sistine Chapel was incredible and unfortunately another place were pictures aren’t allowed, I just wish that next time I go there I can lay on the ground and just stare at the ceiling. For me the sanctity of the moment was ruined by the guards yelling “shhh” and “No photo please”. I loved seeing the busts of famous romans that I have studied. It was like seeing them in person.
In Rome it was great seeing things that I had studied while at Notre Dame which made the experience so much better. Seeing the Pantheon which I went to a lecture on for my Greek Art and Architecture Class, really made looking at it even more fascinating because I knew the story of the building and the purpose of the columns and various other aspects. Knowing a little about Architecture truly allowed me to experience all that Rome had to offer in terms of buildings and sculptures. Also, PLS truly helped me enjoy so much of the paintings and sarcophaguses based off of ancient Greek mythology or even the religious statues of various saints we have read. Also, watching Tosca in my Opera Class for Italian made me get excited when we visited the various sites from the opera. I truly had a great time in Rome and am pumped to go back and see even more.
Are there any functioning Ancient Bath Houses in Italy, I understand the dirtiness that goes along with bath houses but I think it would be awesome to swim around in a place where the kings and princes have done the very same thing?
Oh, I also had a really fun experience talking to the lady making my gyro about New Jersey and the Jersey Shore. After telling her where we were from she told us that she had recently visited New Jersey and felt it was beautiful. I chuckled a little and she told me that she did not appreciate Rome being a local and since Jersey was different she felt it was beautiful and spectacular. It made me think of what parts of New York do I take for granted and not truly appreciates the beauty of. She then brought up one of my favorite television shows, The Jersey Shore, which is disturbingly broadcast in Italy. The gyro lady had a very strong opinion on Snooki and what would happen if Snooki was Italian. She first insisted that if an Italian girl did what Snooki did on television her reputation would be ruined and she would never get married let alone be let out of the house. The gyro lady was very insistent that Snooki would have been killed by her family (not sure if that was an exaggeration) if she was an Italian and did this on television. The gyro lady stressed that this was not because of the actions but the fact that she was doing this on TV. The gyro lady said that there are girls doing what Snooki does but they do not broadcast this to the world. There is a certain discretion in Italy that is very important. You may be a little friendly in the clubs but you do not let that get out. Your family’s name and reputation is very important to the point that you need to do all you can to protect it. The gyro lady had a very interesting perspective on Snooki.
I’m going to try and blog every weekday until this is over.
Photos will be on facebook and on flickr on the 1st of august, sorry grandma
Reflective Journal Entry 9:
The purpose of me coming to Italy was to improve my italian and i am definitely making progress, although it is more difficult than i originally intended. First, especially in the first few weeks here if i did not speak confidently in my Italian or struggled on a word the cashier or waiter would immediately switch to english. Also, a lot of the students here are either not taking any italian or are in beginner’s italian. Another difficulty is that most of the people in Sorrento speak with a Neapolitan accent so ease-dropping is not as simple as i had previously thought. The Neapolitan accent drops a lot of vowels which although i do the same thing in english it is must harder to understand when it is in a foreign language. Also, spanish speakers have such an easy transition from spanish to italian. I am in a class with a 10 year old spanish student, who speaks in perfect italian because of the easiness of hearing words that are so similar to their spanish counterparts that he has no problem. It’s funny when we do listening activities when he will be able to understand everything while all of the other students in the class caught maybe a quarter of what was said.
Also, my attempts at italian have gotten me into some interesting situations. At the vatican museum one of my friends used “lo stesso” meaning the same, so i wanted to try to use it as well and i attempted to say the same but i heard and said “Adesso” meaning right now. I also tried to order a smoothie in italian and ended up getting a pink cocktail, the waitress did say “ragazza” when she was explaining it what she thought i wanted should have tipped me off. My italian although and confidence in my italian is definitely improving. Especially with the every day conversational items. Phrasing is difficult to learn in america because we always translate back to english but native italians speaking to me have helped me pick up go to phrases for various context. I also to improve my italian bought myself an italian comic book which i translate to try and read. Although it takes me some time, it is really helpful because it is all dialogue. (The bookstore was also out of harry potter 1). Now i can perform most interactions with shops in italian, I was able to order an assortment of pastries from a baker who didn’t speak italian, and a panino from a salumeria, today without any english. I can’t imagine how much more i will improve in these last two weeks.
Reflective Journal Entry 10:
My grandma Marie happens to be from the Neapolitan region so i thought it would be interesting to compare her to the woman I see around here to see if you can take the woman out of napoli but you can’t take the napoli out of the woman. The woman of Napoli’s all seem to be extremely driven and hard working. My host mom, Pina is up at 6am getting the meals cooked and cleaning. She also insists on making the beds and hanging up the towels to dry. She’s very passionate in things being her way. I’m going to just say that is very similar to how my grandma operates. The cooking is also very similar to how my grandma makes things. The french fries taste the same, as well as the choice of prunes and melon after dinner. My grandma though loses points for having espressos at night which in Sorrento is normally only done at lunch. I also don’t think my grandma would be able to do a seista. Also the Pasta Fazool, which i learned is a Napolitan term not a regular italian one was made very differently. Here, it was simply beans and pasta, while my grandma i think puts peas, tomato and chops up the beans in the sauce. When sitting down for dinner, its funny to make comparisions between my own italian family dinners and these. It’s funny that at my grandmas we normally do the same order, pasta then meat dish then salad then desserts. It’s interesting to think that even though we think that we are an americanized family, there are a lot of traditions that have held on.
Reflective Journal Entry 11:
My name is Gina Cerruti I am from Sacramento California and I am taking a language course at the Sant’Anna institute with Matt. I study History and Italian at The University of California Santa Barbara. During our stay in Sorrento Matt and I have been the representatives for the East and West coasts in our group, even though we have variations in humor rhetoric and culture we both “run at the same pace”. More importantly we have found that I am one of the only people who can understand Matthew when he speaks or makes one of his many quick quips. No one really knows what language Matthew speaks . . .
Aside from our shared American culture, we have been discovering a whole new world here in Southern Italy. We have taken a paddle boat ride captained by a sixteen year old Russian girl to hidden caves along the Almalfi Coast, experienced snake attacks in Pompeii, used our time in between classes to drink Limoncello (with our teachers supervision of course) in honor of good friends who’s trips are ending. And there are many more activities that Matthew seems to have forgotten about while summarizing his days here in Italy.
It is important to recognize that during any moment of hooliganism amongst the group Matthew is always the voice of reason, making sure everyone is ok and realizes that we have class the next morning. Furthermore Matt is always a crucial addition to any excursion, because it is so easy to forget how lucky we are to have this experience, with Matt by your side you are constantly reminded of where you are and what you are seeing. While walking through Rome it was a common occurrence for Matt to enlighten us with facts about the building we were passing, the biblical importance of a statue or the historical meaning of a painting. Of course we appreciated this because Matt donates his knowledge with humility. There was no sense of “I know something you don’t know” but rather “I am so excited to be looking at this fountain that I may just start crying!!!” Matt often speaks of his family with nostalgia and seems to always find a part of them in some piece of Italy. The statue of St. Barbara was his mother and his aunt, the pasta was one grandma, the lady screaming out her window was the other. Matt’s knowledge and kindness has made me reflect on my own time here in Sorrento as well as help us all remember THIS IS PARADISE!!!!
Also we have been in hot pursuit of any bath house that will grant us entry. We have cast aside all advise against this excursion and won’t be satisfied until we have a successful, rash free, evening in a Roman Bath House.
Reflective Journal Entry 12:
Thanks Gina for taking over for a day. (I swear i didnt pay her to say nice things about me). Just some simple housekeeping things before i start, i forgot to mention how grandma marie’s insistence that you look good no matter how burnt you are is a consistent comment to me here. This weekend i will be going to pompei, Mt. Vesuvius and Caserta, which i will be blogging about on monday.
There is a big difference between, the ocean and the mediterranean sea as well as beach culture within italy and the US. First the mediterranean is extremely clear, especially around protected areas. There are no seaweed, but also no waves. The salt content is also a lot higher so that most people (unfortunately not me) can float with ease. The beaches in Sorrento though are extremely small that private companies have built platforms above the sea and charge patrons for a seat and umbrella. I also was a little bit surprised the first time I went to a pebble beach. Although the pebbles were a lot hotter than the sand, i was shocked that laying on the pebbles wasn’t uncomfortable and i hadn’t considered the benefit of not having sand everywhere. Also, on every beach there are paddle boats and small dingy’s to rent. The docks reminded me of beach clubs were older folks would gather their chairs around each other and play cards or parents would take their kids so that they can relax and the kids can play. The bathing suites for males are much shorter and tighter than anything i would dare to wear but its interesting how there is a wide range of options for males. Some go all the way with the choice of a speedo but others go with male hot pants and for the more conservative type short shorts about 4 inches shorter than my bathing suites. For the ladies, everyone wears a two piece whether they have the body to or not. I have not seen a tankini or a one piece when at times it is greatly needed. I also really like the beach that i went to that was just giant rocks to lay out on and jump off of. That was a lot of fun.
Also, interesting is that pick up games aren’t really popular here. Kids go to the beach but i have only seen a concrete volleyball court used once and only little kids playing soccer on a field. As much as people comment on the size of the american populations i feel we are a much more sport driven culture than here in italy where really soccer is the only sport people follow. Teenagers don’t gather to watch sports games togethers, schools don’t have teams. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between the two countries.
Reflective Journal Entry 13:
Pompeii. Since 7th grade I have been reading and learning about the ancient city destroyed by Vesuvius but getting there I did not expect it to be as complete or as exciting as it truly was. Thanks to my friend Colleen, we were able to go to an active dig site where they were uncovering the middleclass part of Pompeii, which had been neglected for some time. Although the site did not have the frescoes or mosaics of the other parts of Pompeii, the archeologists stressed that it was important to uncover these stores and home to get a fuller look of what life in Pompeii was like before Vesuvius erupted. It was a beautiful look into the past, because most of the buildings were still preserved. It was so easy to complete the picture in my head and see just how beautiful of a city Pompeii must have been. It was really cool to see when archeologists had dug below houses and saw that one house was simply built on top of another. I learned a lot in Pompeii. 9 out of 10 people were able to escape and did not die from the volcanic eruption. Pompeii has a lot of stray dogs that just lie around in houses, living the life, there was an attempt to get the dogs adopted but it didn’t work. Brothels and other things were very easily accessible by clues in the road. The amphitheater was amazing built so that at the top seat you could hear a whisper on the stage. Pompeii felt betrayed by Juno for not protecting them from an earthquake so they refused to rebuild her temple than Mt. Vesuvius erupted. It’s kind of obvious never to mess with Juno. I got to go into a bathhouse but unfortunately it was not functioning so I am not counting that. The paintings on the walls of the homes were my favorite part because of how elaborate they were and particular. Each one told a story that represented something important in the life of those who lived in the house. I’m excited to hopefully visit Herculaneum and Oplontis in the next week to see some more ancient ruins. Hopefully one of them will have a functioning bathhouse. (fingers crossed).
Reflective Journal Entry 14:
It’s like Disney World. These were the first comment of my friend Gina as we biked through the English gardens. (For the record I didn’t embarrass myself on the bikes). The town of Caserta was a must go for me when I decided to study in southern italy. The reason is that this is the town where my grandpa is from, it also has the Reggia, a royal palace made to rival Versailles, and an attached English gardens with statues everywhere. Caserta did not disappoint. Upon arrival we decided to view the English gardens before it got too hot to be enjoyable. This happens to be a common occurrence in southern italy. My host mom constantly suggests that we go early in the morning, or later in the day to avoid the sun. We rode up the long garden to see this beautiful series of sculptures and a man made river connecting them. We hiked up this giant bike finally to this beautiful natural waterfall down this giant hill, slowly descending these mossy rocks into this giant fountain. To the right, we saw these beautiful palm trees and decided to explore where we saw this hidden lake with more waterfalls. We learned later it was called the bath of venus. (no swimming unfortunately). That had a beautiful statue of venus overlooking this lake that truly looked like Disney must have recreated this. The best part had to be speeding down the hill on the bikes, the view was spectacular looking down at the palace while speeding along the beautiful aqueduct. When we rode through the forests it reminded me of quading through upstate and the peacefulness of being surrounded by nature without hearing others. I saw runners and thought that I thought I was fortunate being able to have track practice in Central Park but these people had ancient sculptures and fountains to run around.
We then decided to go inside the palace that was beautiful. We walked from room to room not sure of what was the nicer art. The paintings on display or the paintings and sculptures of the wall. The reggia interestingly enough had a mixture of contemporary and ancient art, which really impressed me. Walking around I kept asking myself whether my ancestors had built this room or painted this wall. I really enjoyed the ancient books and gold-plated walls. The nicest part about the palace, is that it was empty. There were some rooms that we were the only people. It was such a nice change from the Vatican museums where we were rushed and fighting for location. It felt like how a museum was supposed to feel. The blessing is also the curse of Caserta, which is obviously lacking tourism. The problem is that the only tourist attraction is the reggia and the English gardens, which can be done in half a day. The mountainous town has no beach and no hotels. It is difficult to get to because you must take a train from Napoli. The area is so rich in history however. In San Leucio, the first modern civilization was founded as an experiment. The founder Gaetano Filangeri, created a society where men and women were treated equally, skiller laborers were allowed to marry, and education was mandatory and free for all over the age of 6. Also, the old and young were protected. The society made silk and you can still purchase silk from there today although now it is privately owned. Ben Franklin was in communication with Filangeri, when he was working on American independence. Also, by Caserta, is Casertavecchia. The mountain town is where the workers came from to build the Reggia. The town had a medieval style and the church was so different from the others it was beautiful. It was simply made of stone, and didn’t have the paintings of the others but the gothic style was refreshingly simple. It was weird and sad that we were the only tourists in the area of Casertavecchia. All in all, it was a really fun trip and a nice way to reconnect to my ancestors.
Reflective Journal Entry 15:
Let me start by saying I did not get hurt but my friend Gina did. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t do stairs well and tripped down a total of 3 steps and discovered at about 4am that she was not able to put any pressure on that foot. Luckily for me, unlucky for her, i did not hear my phone buzz at 4:30 asking me to walk with her to the hospital. I did read it at 6:30 and immediately rushed there. We made it to the hospital at 7 but unfortunately non-emergencies were not handled until 8. She got an x-ray and turned out that nothing was probably broken and she was given a prescription for antibiotics and we left the hospital at 8:45. The experience at the hospital was interesting to say the least. When we arrived the hospital was open but we didn’t see anybody. We walked around the hallway until we heard voices talking in a private room. After multiple attempts at “scusi”, a doctor finally came out and told us to wait outside. In situations like this you really get to see how much your italian has improved and can you handle it. It was nice being able to understand the gist of what the doctors were saying and being able to functionally interact with other people. I wheeled Gina around in a broken wheelchair that only worked if i dragged her behind me. I may have banged into the wall a few time but i was careful not to hit her left foot. I felt bad for this british family next to us. They knew very little italian and their daughter had gotten an ear infection and was in a lot of pain. They were unsure about whether she would be able to fly and they had trouble communicating with the doctors. We tried to help but were saved when Serena, a worker at Sorrento Lingue and friend, came to help translate for them. I then had to go pick up Gina’s prescription which was interesting, the doctor charged us 8 euros for her to read what the paper said in italian to me, and then only 6 for the antibiotics. All in all it has been an intersting morning. I also have a test today that i have neglected to study for. Thanks Gina!
So the original purpose of the post is talking about mass in italian. I went to mass on Sunday in Italian and it was a very interesting experience. I think the new version of mass helped me understand more of what was going on because of the attempt to get it closer to the latin which in turn was most likely closer to the italian. Interesting fact was that no one tried to recite prayers in rhythm. Everyone went at their own pace which made it truly difficult to understand what was being recited. Also, i was a little surprised that the sign of peace was hand shaking in italy. I kind of expected kisses as their sign of peace. Lastly, it was nice to see how engaging the priest was during his homily and able to hold the attention of the whole crowd. Also there were older gentleman as alter servers which was a little weird.
Reflective Journal Entry 16:
So since this is the last week, i looked at my list of places that i wanted to go and i was left with only two more. he ancient city of Herculaneum and the ancient vill of Aplontis. I quickly checked the railroads and realized that i cold easily do both in an afternoon, so i started asking my friends if anyone wanted to accompany me. No one did, so i flew solo,which was a perfect way to further test my italian proficiency. I got a ticket and started o make my way by train to herculaneum. When i arrived i askd for directions in italian and walke down the street to a mini pompeii. Although it was smaller, herculaneum had some interesting sights especilly there gym area hich had a altar in a darkly lit cave. my only complaint was that herculaneum had a lot of the exhibits closed and i was unable to enter them.. It did have some really cool two floor ruins. Aplotis awas definitely my favorite of the trip because of how different it was. It was a villa believed to be owned by Nero’s second wife. the villa was completely open and able to walk around almost all areas. on the walls were beautiful mosaics and paintings while the floor had complete tile mosaics. the villa also had a gaint swimming pool. because the villa was not destroyed it was so easy to imagine living there at one point. Also, the vatican was the only sight that gave all students a discounted price not just EU students. All in all i’ve had a lot of fun going on various excursions but on my last few days im just going to stay in Sorrento go to the beach and finish souvenier shopping.
Reflective Journal Entry 17:
The italian department at Notre Dame has mainly professors from Northern Italy. This caused me to have a lot of expectations for how italians acted but i did not realize how different the north and south truly was. All the italian professors wear darker clothing and have sunglasses on their heads. Sunglasses weirdly enough aren’t that popular in the south and i saw a lot of light colors here. I read online dumbly that no one wears shorts here, that was not true. While being here i have seen grown men wearing shorts and flip flops, that were also speaking in italian so i knew that they werent tourists. I have seen that italians do go for walks after dinner and that everyone greets each other on these walks. Its really fun how, you see the various groups of people kids, adults teens all walking in groups talking. I feel like the south doesnt dress as nicely as the north. I saw a lot of stores advertising mickey mouse themed adult t-shirts. That was a little weird.
Postcard(s) from Abroad:
Reflection on my language learning and intercultural gains:
The language acquisition process was a lot more difficult than i imagined but was incredibly rewarding once I worked hard at it. The major issue with language issue is the ability of most europeans in Sorrento to speak english better than I can speak italian. Once i messed up they would immediately switch to english. Once i realized that i would truly have to work at using italian in all circumstances i definitely feel as if my italian has improved immensely and my goals of a better ability to communicate and confidence in community were met. Although I didnt absorb the italian like a sponge i most certainly improved.
Reflection on my summer language abroad experience overall:
Personally, Going to europe by myself was a beneficial growing experience. I gained confidence in being able to assimilate with various groups of people and i realized just how big our world is. I had so much fun just talking with people about how they lived, how their government was structured and their views on various things. The trip made me appreciate what i had in america but also see europeans in a compltely different light. I also, see the importance of learning other’s language. Although in most places you can survive with english, the smiles on people’s faces when you even attempt to communicate in italian shows how much they appreciate it. My advice would be to memorize the basic introductions and commands because you will use these most often.
How I plan to use my language and intercultural competences in the future:
As I mentioned throughout my blog, I hopefully will be studying at the University of Bologna in the spring. With this program, I will continue to improve on my italian until I get to a working level where i can understand and converse with most people. I definitely in the future would love to get a job that involved me traveling to Italy and working with italians. The country is beautiful and any excuse to go back i will greatly appreciate. Thank you to the CSLC for allowing me to study in Sorrento and improve my italian.