Fink, Harriet



Name: Harriet Fink


Language:  Italian

Location of Study:  Siena, Italy

Program of Study: Dante Abroad

Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino Family International Scholars in Italy Program

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A brief personal bio:

Hi, I’m Harriet Fink! I am a sophomore from Washington, D.C. majoring in Philosophy and potentially Italian. I enjoy reading and have loved learning the history of humanity in a cultural context, especially through languages and art. I am involved in Habitat for Humanity and the Sailing Club among other ventures here at Notre Dame. I am super excited to be heading to Siena, Italy this summer to study at the Dante Alighieri School!

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

After beginning Italian just this past year, I quickly fell in love with the language and the culture it is tied to. I have been fascinated by Italy, especially the cultural conception of beauty ever since I first learned about the Renaissance. One of the unique things about learning another language is you realize at some point, there are things that simply cannot be translated justly, and language is the basis from which all people understand themselves as themselves and in relation to there community. Learning another language provides a unique lens into another way of life.

This summer I hope to become conversational in Italian, and the SLA grant is extremely important in helping me do so. I plan on studying abroad in Bologna, Italy in the Spring of 2018 where I will be taking all of my classes in Italian and living with other Italians who might not know English. On a practical level, I need to be proficient enough in Italian in order to survive in Italy. The better I am at Italian at the start of Bologna, the more fruitful the experience will be. Ideally, after graduation, I will have another opportunity to live in Italy.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

The ultimate goal is to become fluent in Italian, but a more realistic goal for my six weeks this summer is to be able to have a fluid conversation in Italian with ease. In order to achieve this, I plan on not speaking a single word of english (as much as I can avoid it) as soon as I arrive in Siena. I will actively practice beyond the classroom everyday by engaging my host family and conversing with the people I meet. Instead of reverting to English to fill in vocabulary I don’t know, I plan on trying to explain around it and learn how to say the words instead. While I am in Siena, I am also going to attempt rereading Dante’s Divine Comedy, but in Italian this time. Reading a book in the original language adds so much more substance to the reading, so I would like be at the level where I can read, comprehend, and analyze Dante’s trilogy as well as other Italian classics in their original language. I would also love to develop a sense of humor in Italian, because I think at that point, you begin to truly understand the language.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:


My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience: