By: Teresa Sarkela –
One of the 11 students participating in the Semester in Italy, junior sociology major and music minor Leo Steiner, took the time to answer a few questions about the semester of a lifetime from across the ocean.
What does a typical class day entail for students?
We wake up, and prepare for an adventure. When I say this, I don’t mean a dreary sludge through the breakfast hall to dribble through coffee. I mean we get our backpacks strapped on and loaded with gear. We get our shoes laced tight because we will hike through an archeological site that has stood the test of time, and we will spare no time to walk through its gates for the sake of education, an experience truly incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced. Class is not determined by a bell schedule, it’s determined by the sun in the sky. We don’t stop until around 6:30 starting at 9:00. Now of course we have lunch and dinner breaks, and breaks within the day for breathing room; but there is definitely no lack of education on this trip.
What material and sites are part of the Italian studies?
We’ve been studying Magna Grecia history from a geologic, architectural, artistic, cultural, and societal perspective. We’ve read hundreds upon hundreds of pages about the vast changes of the Roman civilization, from kingdom to republic to empire.
What have been the biggest challenges from being part of this program?
Challenges? School and intense adventuring seven days a week! You need to be in shape for this trip. We walk a lot! At least five miles a day. It’s not through comfortable grass either, this is cobble country. This is marble ruins country. This is Achilles’ country! The biggest benefit, I would say, is a life-changing experience through time that will leave you rendered under new light, as a new being. If you’ve never seen life outside the USA, you need to! I had no idea this other side of the world was this way; it still baffles me just thinking about it now.
As part of the cultural experience, what has been the best food in Italy so far?
The best food I’ve had has been in Sicily. Catania to be specific. Sicily has such a history you know, and not just Roman, but Greek, French, Spanish, Norman, Byzantine, Persian and, of course, English. And all of the wine. I’ve not had one single bad glass. I’ve been spoiled with all aspects of food.
Being part of this program has been pivotal and eye opening to your studies. What would you like to say about the continuation of the program and to interested students?
There is one Rome, one ancient city, one legacy. We’re here now because it is worth seeing. The treasures the art department receives [through] this opportuni- ty should not be [at risk of being taken] away from future interested students. Is it worth it? Yes. Am I in love with Europe? Yes. Will I come back? Yes!
Should this be a part of the Rocky experience?
The valley across from Villa Pieve, which is the host school that pairs up with Rocky in Italy.
Looking out on an Italian bay during one of the day excursions taken by Rocky students.