Why Italy?

Katharine K. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Denver School of Science and Technology in Colorado.

I remember the moment I received my acceptance. Sitting in, of course, math class, I watched the page load, praying to see an acceptance letter in my Infrastructure account. When it finally loaded, I knew this would be the best decision of my life. And now, a year later, I can only hope to share the power of this year with you all. So, to any prospective students, alumni hoping to reminisce, or parents aiding in the decision, here are a few reasons I think you should choose SYA Italy.

  1. Viterbo is incredible. Unlike any other city I’ve lived in, Viterbo has a unique balance of community, but is still large enough that there is always stuff to do and always a new part of the city to explore. That is, of course, with the right mindset and the will to explore. Every day during break I get a cappuccino from Bar 103, and now we are friends, the ladies know my order “un cappuccino decaffeinato,” and we chat on the weather or my homework load. The Viterbese want you to feel at home and comfortable, and are always willing to help with your Italian or teach you a new word. From the restaurants, to the quiet atmosphere, or the beautiful countryside only a 10 minute walk from school, this town is the perfect place to study for a year. I’ve made a home here and know that whenever I come back, the community will always await, as well as the amazing pizza, beautiful scenery, and my host family.

  2. The host families really are the key to the program. Without a family, you wouldn’t learn the language or have a connection to the culture. I come home to a mom who always asks how I am doing and cooks dinner every night for my family. We laugh about Sanremo, the Italian music competition, go to the beach, and I go to dinner with my host siblings. Having a family means I have parents to lean on when I’m stressed or something isn’t going well, but it also means that my involvement in the culture extends beyond a textbook. I went to harvest le castagne this fall, and we are participating in Lent together. Traditions like le pesce di San Andrea, a Viterbese tradition where “good” kids get a chocolate fish in honor of Saint Andrew, became personal because I received a fish and we discussed it together. Everything from the long Italian dinners, to how to make pasta by hand, my host family has given me authentic culture and we’ve built an inseparable bond.

  3. Our school is based on hands-on experiences. Every Wednesday we are out and about, whether it is a day trip to Arezzo, the town where the famous Italian film La Vita è Bella was filmed, or planning for our upcoming trip to either Sicily or Piedmont. This past Wednesday we followed an ancient map around Rome, searching for traces of the ancient city in the midst of the modern chaos. If you want to be doing things, not reading about them, Italy is the place for you. We’ve made wine, cheese, are curing meat, have a garden, and have explored a handful of Italian towns in the province. The school also provides the opportunity for individual projects and exploration. Last week for a school project, I tasted olive oil after school. Little did I know, this olive oil was voted the best olive oil in the world in 2014 and has won awards every year since the press opened. Whether you end up tasting wine in Tuscany, making cheese in class, or sampling the world’s best olive oil, there is something incredible about living in such a world-renowned country filled with amazing food. The special part is that these experiences become daily life; they are open to everyone.

By studying here, in Viterbo, you get a community. A culture willing to embrace you and teach you. Compared to Rome or Milan, there is an authenticity that allows you to experience the world-renowned Italy as your own. Everyone at SYA can tell you these experiences have become part of daily life, and the food and ability to learn from the best of the best is definitely a reason to study in Italy. The teachers, families, and friends of the school give everything to make the year incredible, and I wish any future students an incredible year filled with life-changing experiences!

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