I cannot believe that the semester is already close to an end. This whole experience has been life changing. I truly believe that studying abroad was the best one I have ever made myself. I have learned so much about myself, which sounds cheesy but is true. I was extremely nervous when I landed in Italy, but now I am just used to my life here. It makes me sad to think about leaving this life that I have made for myself over these past few months. I just cannot believe all of the amazing adventures I have been on since getting here.
One piece of advice I would give to anyone coming to Umbra Institute in Perugia is to join the Food Sustainability and Environment, or FSE, Program. You learn all about food and they provide so many interesting classes around food. We had a cheese workshop where a master cheese maker came in and gave us different samples of his company’s homemade cheese. We also went to a truffle farm and learned all about the history of truffles as well as go hunting for them. The best class to take is Anthropology of Food. You get to learn about how people do deep research on food. You also learn how to do proper field work. All throughout the semester you go to different restaurants and interview the workers. After the trip you are expected to write a report on everything you observed as well as the interview content. Those trips have honestly been the best I have been on throughout this entire semester. It is also really nice to have an amazing meal with your fellow students and get to know them on a whole other level. Another amazing part about the FSE Program is the trip you go on toward the end of the semester. We spent an entire weekend in Emilia Romagna learning about how different foods are cultivated and served. It was probably the highlight of the semester for me. We got to travel with these amazing people to learn about the true meaning of Italian food and what that looks like today. My favorite part was visiting the cheese factory. The whole process was really cool to watch.
Another piece of advice I would give to anyone traveling abroad in general is to not worry about making friends right away. I know that might sound a little strange, but it is very true. Talking to other students at Umbra, that was probably the biggest stressor for a majority of people coming to Italy. Luckily for us, our school had a ton of amazing programs set up for us since we arrived in Perugia. My favorite night was probably karaoke night because it was a competition, but everyone was still super supportive. It was definitely a night I will never forget. Those programs also continue throughout the entire semester. As the semester goes on you also get really close to your class if they have a good dynamic since the classes are so small, just like at Arcadia. I was also part of the Umbra Reps club, which I highly encourage anyone coming to Umbra to apply to. The club was a way for students to show everyone what Umbra life is like in Perugia as a study abroad student. We did this through different kinds of social media posts. I even did a podcast with some of the other women in my group about FOMO while studying abroad. I was so lucky to work with such an amazing and supportive group of women.
As my time at Umbra comes to an end, I cannot believe all of the amazing opportunities I was given through this program. Not many people from back home can say that they have lived in Italy before they turned 20. One of my favorite parts about this whole experience is how much I have learned to trust myself. No matter how crazy life gets, you will get to your destination. You will do whatever you set your mind to. You just have to be determined. Studying abroad has taught me all of that and so much more. Thank you guys for joining me on my crazy journey this semester and I hope you have enjoyed my posts. Until next time!