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Nicole DiMichele: Connecting With My Identity

July 16, 2014

RCAH senior Nicole DiMichele, who is also majoring in social work,  just returned from a study abroad to Florence, Italy, and post-program travels to Paris, London and Barcelona.

Street in Italy with students at dining table

This summer, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Florence, Italy, for six weeks, and spend some time in Paris, London and Barcelona for two weeks after the conclusion of my program.

While I was in Florence I took an Italian language class taught by a native Italian speaker and an IAH course about art, culture and politics in Renaissance-era Florence.

In six weeks’ time I was able to get to a comfortable, conversational level of speaking Italian. Hearing and speaking only Italian in class every day, practicing with my fellow MSU students as well as local Florentines outside of class, and attempting to hold conversations with my host family at the dinner table all gave me the opportunity to grow more and more confident in my ability to speak the language, rather than just understand, read and write it.

Equally rewarding was learning about and living in a city and more largely a culture built on a foundation of art, creativity and humanities that has evolved so differently from our own.

Growing up with my Italian heritage being at the very center of my life, getting the chance to live in Italy, learn and speak the Italian language and take an in-depth look at Italian art, culture and politics was more life changing than I could have ever imagined. Although I knew this trip would have a big impact on me, I cannot even explain how amazing it was to be surrounded by Italian language and culture in such a way that I was able to form a new, deeper connection with that part of my identity.

Italian landscape

For me, this experience very much illustrated how important language and culture are to figuring out who you are, taking my RCAH studies to a very real and personal level. Not to mention, I can now speak to many of my family members in their first language—my grandfather is beyond ecstatic.

While in Italy, I kept a blog chronicling my experiences with writing and photos—unfortunately, midway through the trip I fell very behind on blogging because I was so busy! However, now that I am back in East Lansing for the remainder of the summer, I will be working on finishing it.

 

This entry originally ran July 8 in the Summer of RCAH blog. Read more and check out more beautiful photos on Nicole’s personal blog.