International Connections


Hannah Astarita

Major: Event Management


Minor/option/emphasis: Gerontology; Hospitality

Year: Senior
Hometown, State: Slater, Iowa

Type of experience: Faculty-Led Program
Experience: For the Love of Italy and Food
Experience website: http://isuabroad.iastate.edu/?go=CHSItaly
Destination: Italy

Overall experience..
Although it was only two weeks, I was able to learn so much and make great connections with other students in that time. As a group we traveled to Rome, Tuscania, Florence, Parma, and Milan. We had cooking classes, production how to's, historical tours, and of course, lots of food tastings. This program gave me the chance to experience amazing opportunities that other tourists and independent study abroad students don't get to have while making lifelong friends.

I learned...
I attended the CHS Study Abroad Fair during CHS week in the fall. After I spoke with one of the faculty working the booth, I knew I wanted to apply for the program.

An impact to my life...
Studying abroad has helped me become more comfortable and confident with trying new things. Specifically, I have become much better about trying new foods to eat and prepare. I also learned more about myself and what it takes for me to adjust to new places and people so quickly.

My most valuable learning experience...
I loved all of our cooking classes we had. In total, there were four different classes, but each one was so different. I couldn’t believe the meals that I had made turned out so well. It showed me that if I put in the time, I can make just about anything.

I will never forget...
I don't think I will ever forget our time in Tuscania. It was so different from all of our other stops because of how quiet and quaint it was. It was somewhere I could see myself living, and I loved how it wasn’t touristy. We also had amazing tours and meals while we were in Tuscania. Our tour guide, Massimo, was with us for most of the time and he was quite the talker. We toured the town, a vineyard, and an olive oil farm with him.

A surprising discovery...
I knew wine and olive oil are a big part of Italian culture, but I couldn’t believe how much of it is actually consumed. Once we learned about the Mediterranean Diet though, it made more sense. Since I have a minor in gerontology, I was able to associate the diet to the age of Italians and how it has actually helped them live longer. I will be looking for connections like this once I start working in retirement communities.

Advice for others...
I almost didn’t do this program because of the cost, but honestly now is the best time to be traveling. If studying abroad is something you really want to do, you have to invest the time and money while you still can. It will definitely be worth it in the end, and once you are abroad you can spend as much or as little as you want. I saved money by grabbing quick meals instead of plated meals every time, buying souvenirs for only a few people, and taking advantage of student discounts or happy hours. On the other hand, you can look at it like a once in a lifetime opportunity and spend as much as you want. Studying abroad is really flexible and looks different for everyone.

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