I know it has been nearly five months since I sat down to blog, and there really is no excuse for it. These past five months have been some of the most challenging, amazing and rewarding times in my life, but writing that does little to relieve the fact that I did not share these experiences. Although I did contribute to the food blogging world with my posts for Small Kitchen College, I failed to keep up-to-date on my own personal blog. This failure is something I resolve to change in 2012.Continue reading →
I have a guilty pleasure. While for some it might be late night trips to the freezer for dates with their favorite guys Ben and Jerry or eating enough raw cookie dough equivalent to half a dozen cookies, my guilty pleasure has nothing to do with food. Instead, I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction and pleasure out of listening in on other people’s conversations and raising my eyebrows at the ridiculous things I overhear. Continue reading →
It would be fitting that as I watched Woody Allen’s new film Midnight in Paris the only thing I could smell was butter.
Even if the butter was emanating from bags of popcorn, the scent of the fat made me think of all the wonderful French things made with the glorious churned milk. Crossiants, pain au chocolat, sole meunière, beurre blanc. Each of these heavenly items sparked memories of my few days in the capital of France. Continue reading →
Right now I am suffering from an inability to speak in a foreign tongue. Having lived with Flavia and gallivanted throughout Italy for the past four months, my mind gradually began to think in two languages. Although I was far from bilingual, hearing Italian words became music to my ears and conversing in the tongue felt like singing a beautifully, eloquent song. Today, however, I am back in a country where ain’t, yo, home boy, BBM, and lol, among others, are everyday words and phrases.
In high school I studied Italian for three years, but I was unfortunately unable to continue with the language as a senior. Lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), Georgetown required that I study a language during my undergraduate career. Looking to review and renew my interest in the language of my dad’s ancestors, I enrolled in intensive Italian courses during my freshman year at the university. As a student in the College, I was only required to take Italian through the intermediate level, so I completed my language studies at the end of last spring, or so I thought… Continue reading →
In Roberto Benigni’s Oscar-winning film La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful), the main protagonist Guido always seems to know how to add excitement and comedy to life. Even when faced with tragedy, specifically in the context of the film’s setting during Holocaust, Guido never fails to put a smile on others’ faces and to remind those of life’s simplest pleasures.
A comedic-tragedy, as many critics like to call it, La Vita è Bella tells the story of a Jewish Italian named Guido Orefice and his hilarious attempts to win the heart of the upper-class Dora. This chase for love dominates the first half of the film before switching to a more serious, somber tone. After marrying Dora and starting a family, Guido is transported to a Nazi concentration camp along with his young, naïve son Giosuè. Amidst the horrors and the harsh realities of the camp, Guido remains as bubbly and optimistic as ever to keep his son’s spirits and hopes alive. Continue reading →
Recently I wrote a letter to my local newspaper, the North Providence Valley Breeze, in response to an article about the lack of funds for foreign language classes in the local middle schools. Considering how important is the knowledge of a foreign language (or two) in today’s society, the headline immediately drew my attention and warranted my response to express my dismay. Below is the beginning of the letter.
As a current study abroad student, I was disappointed to read the April 6 article, “NP schools lack money to improve language classes.” Currently, I am studying in Florence, Italy, and during my time overseas I have come to realize just how important it is for students to study another language in their youth.
While I have greatly increased my learning skills while living abroad for the semester, I wish I had been more prepared before my arrival. As a former student in the North Providence public school system, I can barely remember my middle school language classes. I do remember that students were required to take Foreign Language as an elective, but there was no choice as to which language. As the article points out, students divide their three years at the middle school learning either Spanish or Italian. Though it seems money inhibits such potential, it would be more advantageous to allow students to select which language to study so that they could have a more solid understanding before entering high school. Although I took three years of Italian at the high school, limited interest in the language by other students did not allow me to continue onto a fourth year. As a result, I lost a year of learning, and thus felt as if I was starting from the beginning when I enrolled in Italian during my first college semester.
Yesterday I witnessed one of the biggest sins a person can commit in Italy.
As I stood at a bar sipping my cappuccino, I watched as a group of students walked inside. Based on their appearance, I did not need to hear their voices to know that they were American. While I was spooning out what remained of the froth from my caffeine fix, I listened intently as a girl wearing a Penn State shirt approached the cassa, the register. Continue reading →
George Bernard Shaw once said, “The whole strength of England lies in the fact that the enormous majority of the English people are snobs.” Apparently, the French are not the only European citizens who have a stereotyped reputation for being less than welcoming.
Since the beginning of the semester one of my main goals was to dispel common stereotypes about foreigners perpetuated by Americans. Thus far I have dispelled many about the Italians and my brief stay in Paris taught me that the snooty stereotypes about French people were far from accurate. Looking to see if Shaw’s perception of the English was correct, I spent last weekend in the United Kingdom’s capital, London. Continue reading →
As I sat on the train from Versailles, my excitement could barely be contained. Behind me a little boy sat with his mother, and the two conversed in a language perhaps more beautiful than Italian. Suddenly, the Eiffel Tower came … Continue reading →
In his essay, “In Defense of European Languages,” Carnegie Mellon professor Stephen Brockmann describes Italy and its language as “beautiful, fun and sexy.” Though as an Italian-American I am certainly biased, I believe that professor Brockmann is absolutely correct in his assessment. With such eloquence and poetics, the Italian language is one of the most romantic to speak and hear.
Having studied Italian for three years in high school and one year intensively at Georgetown, I was very anxious to come to Florence to finally practice my language skills. Yet, even with four years of study under my belt, I felt a sense of unease flying off to a country that required me to speak a different language. Considering I had never spoken the language outside of the classroom, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived in Florence.
Before my plane took off from the airport in the United States, I got a little taste of what was to come during my four months abroad. As I waited to board my flight, dozens of passengers surrounded me conversing in Italian. There were times when my ears perked up to certain words and phrases that I understood, but the majority of the time I simply sat in awe admiring how wonderful the words sounded as they rolled off the Italians’ tongues.
To me, the beauty and romanticism of the Italian language can make even the simplest words and ideas sound exciting. This, however, can cause problems with someone like me who does not speak the language fluently. In my attempts to sound sophisticated and also grammatically correct, it is very easy to mispronounce a syllable or entire word and thus change the entire meaning of what was intended.
To read more, check out the original post for Georgetown’s weekly magazine The Guide.