2011: A Year in Review

Dear readers,

Are you there?  It’s me, Bethany.

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

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Overhearing the World’s Words

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

A Remarkable Moveable Feast

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

Longing for a Conversation

I am in language withdrawal.

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

Life is Beautiful

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

The Importance of Foreign Language Education

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.

The letter can be read in its entirety here.

This Ain’t No Starbucks

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