Lauren Graziano: The People That Make the Adventure so Grand

Italy has helped me create many timeless memories in the few short months I’ve been here. Viterbo has allowed me to experience Italian culture in an incredibly authentic way without all the touristy hustle and bustle of the larger Italian cities. The small, medieval city has taught me more than I imagined I would learn in the short amount of time I’ve been here and it has also introduced me to people that have made my time here amazing.
I am taking the Italian Track One intensive language track at the University degli Studi della Tuscia during my studies here. The track covers an extensive amount of material and I could never have hoped to learn or understand all the information as well as I did without the help of my professor. Morena was extremely helpful, always answering my incessant questions and explaining things whenever we were unsure. She is fantastic at engaging her students and helping us stay focused and actively participating in class. I know that without her help and patience, I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much Italian as a know now and I’m so thankful for constant encouragement throughout our daily classes. She has taught me so much already and I can’t wait to understand more of the beautiful Italian language with her help.
My Italian professor is not the only person I’ve met in Viterbo that has significantly impacted my experience here. I am unbelievably fortunate to be staying in the most wonderful apartment with my host family Matteo and Fabiana. They have been so welcoming, helpful, and kind since the day of my arrival. Not only that, they have also taken my roommate, Ashlynn, and I to Bagnaia for a bonfire celebration and to the Terme Dei Papi hot springs during the incredibly snowy week that left the whole city frozen. Additionally, we’ve had the privilege of cooking with their good friend, Giovanni, who happens to be an excellent chef. Matteo and Fabiana are constantly teaching me new words and phrases in Italian as well as various things about the culture that are fascinating and keep me learning something new every day. I’ve had such a wonderful experience so far and I’m so grateful to be a part of their charming home life here in Viterbo.
A vital support structure that I have relied on over the past few months here in Italy, have been the friends I’ve made. Arriving in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language and don’t fully understand the culture, can leave you feeling slightly overwhelmed at times. Thankfully, the close friends that I have met have made it so much easier to branch out and try new things; like frog legs in Paris, or cooked horse meat in Verona. They’ve made every weekend trip to different foreign places a whirlwind of adventures. And when I catch myself getting just the tiniest bit homesick, they have lifted my spirits; studying abroad has been such an amazing time so far because I am surrounded by such kind and loving friends. The small group of close friends I have made here has had a lasting impact on me that can’t really be put into words but I dearly hope they know how much they mean to me.