Amazing adventures happen while in Italy

Published 9:20 am Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I’m not quite sure where to begin my story. So many amazing things have happened in the past three weeks that it is hard to sum it all up. I guess I’ll start at the most logical spot: the beginning.

Three weeks ago I left the comfort of Minnesota and flew almost 5,000 miles to Florence, Italy. From there I made my way to the small town of Sesto Fiorentino, which will be my home until May. The reason behind my travelling is that I am “studying” abroad. People always told me studying abroad was a great experience, and so, being somewhat of a pushover, I made the commitment to live in Italy for four months.

So far the experience has been pure joy. I live in a villa from the 15th century with 43 other college students. The villa has beautiful paintings in all of the rooms and a garden that would make any garden enthusiast weep, (I’m attempting to get gardening secrets from our 87-year-old gardener, but he speaks no English and I’m not familiar with garden vocabulary.) When I was walking in the gardens I found a little creek with a bridge over it. When I saw it I assumed that it was a figment of my imagination because no way was there this beautiful bridge and creek in my backyard — alas, I was not dreaming; I am just very lucky.

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Besides living in a classic villa, I have a chef to cook me meals six days a week. His name is Bruno and he is an adorable older man — I have a biased opinion, however, because he makes me such delicious meals. Each meal Bruno has made has been the best meal of my life. Words cannot describe how good the food is. Each meal is like Christmas morning — you never know what you’re going to get but you’re never disappointed. The best part of my day is when I walk into the dining hall and see a dessert fork sitting on the table. If each meal is like Christmas morning, then dessert alone is like every birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Fourth of July you have ever had. One night Bruno made baked apples (whole) covered in a caramel liquor glaze. I thought that I might die with delight. Best. Dessert. Ever.

Travelling is a big part of my study abroad program. We only have class four days a week so that we have more time to travel on the weekends. So far, I have travelled to Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Montepulciano and Perugia. Each trip has been its own little adventure. I’ve gone to multiple wine tastings, seen a tower which is oddly leaning to the side, walked on a medieval wall that surrounds a city and seen the most breathtaking views of Italy. I’ve had to stop myself from constantly taking pictures and just let it all soak in. I cannot believe that this is my life.

I’m sure some of you are asking yourself, “Isn’t she ‘studying’ abroad?” Well, we do attend classes, but they just blend in with the experience so that I forget they are actual classes. I am taking an art history class, but instead of looking at pictures of art in a book, we go to the museums and churches and actually see the art. My art history professor has been working with my program for 16 years, and I believe she could talk about Florentine art for days. I won’t ever be able to take another art history class because it will just never be the same.

Alongside art history, I am taking a class on the life of Galileo. My professor for that class is obsessed with Galileo. He can connect Galileo to anything; often at lunch the conversation will somehow move from weekend plans to Galileo’s favorite planet. It wasn’t until I saw a picture of Galileo that I realized how strong my professor’s obsession was; the resemblance was striking.

My other classes are on Shakespeare’s plays and an Italian language class. I love all of my classes because they relate to the world around me. I’m actually learning useful words and phrases in my Italian class to use in everyday life. My professor scares me a little bit though. There are two Samanthas in the class and she has problems pronouncing my last name so she just calls me “Samantha Due” (Samantha Two).

So far, life in Italy is amazing. I love the people in my program, and I love this country. It is tough sometimes adjusting to the culture, but I think I’m doing pretty well. My red hair and pale skin are a dead giveaway that I’m American, but I’ve gotten used to the stares.

Life is good (so far).

Samantha Overgaard attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated from Albert Lea High School in 2007.