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Anselmians Return from First Semester Abroad in Orvieto

May 09, 2016

Laura Lemire
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7242

Saint Anselm students toured Rome as part of the Semester in Orvieto Italy program

On Saturday, May 1, Saint Anselm College faculty and students returned home at the conclusion of the college's first Semester Abroad in Orvieto, Italy. Throughout the 2016 spring semester, 11 students accompanied by two faculty members, Classics professors David George and Linda Rulman, lived, learned, and traveled together as part of the study abroad program in Orvieto.

Living in the historic district, groups of four students shared apartments with two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and an open kitchen. From their modern style Italian apartments, the students navigated cobblestone streets and narrow alleys to their nearby academic building, Centro Studi Citta di Orvieto.

The students enrolled in four courses, and studied topics ranging from Classics, history, art and architecture, to Italian culture, politics and theology. Three of the courses, Chiavi: Keys to our Cultural Heritage, Classical Mythology, and War and Culture in the Ancient World, were taught by Professors George and Rulman. Additional courses, Introduction to Italian Language, History of Italian Cinema, Italian Food, Wine and Culture, and the Catholic Vision were taught by local, Italian adjunct professors (though all were taught in English).

The one required course, Chiavi: Keys to our Cultural Heritage had two components aimed to give an overview of the major Italian cultural achievements that have significantly shaped Western civilization. For the first component, students participated in mandatory guided tours, field trips, and cultural excursions one to two days every week. The second component was a Thursday seminar, which included discussion of the readings and excursions.

Through the Chiavi excursions, students toured Rome, Perugia, Assisi, Subiaco, Florence, Naples, Pompeii, Monte Cassino, and Tarquinia.

After a trip to Assisi, senior Classics major Joseph Cahill reflected on the experience of visiting Italy's sites: "Everywhere you look there are layers upon layers of story and history woven into the landscape. It's daunting, I think it made all of us feel very, very small. But I'm also sure that it excited a desire to explore and question, and challenged us to not spend our time here existing but really living."

Cahill had spent the summer following his freshman year participating in the college's archaeological dig in Orvieto, and returned in his second semester senior year to experience living on the mesa itself.

"Orievto is a quintessential Italian hill town," said Cahill. "I think the way I put it to a friend on the phone was, 'When Hollywood imagines a set for a place that is instantly recognizable as ‘Italian, they imagine this.' It was a difficult decision to leave Saint Anselm for my last semester of college, but every day I'm reminded that I've made a great choice."

Aside from its long and rich history, Orvieto offers restaurants, shops, and beautiful views from its hilltop. Immersing herself in the life of Orvieto, communication major Ali Tatro '17 enjoyed exploring the city and making new friends.

"There's a running trail around the city and there's a park that you can play pick-up soccer, Frisbee, or anything else," said Tatro. "We've made some local friends that we've gone out to dinner and hung out with at community events, like concert and holiday festivals. I've been able to practice my Italian and they practice their English in return."

Orvieto is conveniently located in Italy's Umbria region - one hour from Rome and one and half hours from Florence by train. The program also included a week-long Spring Break during which students were free to explore places of personal interest and experience different cultures, including Venice, Athens, Dublin, and other locations.

Read more about the students' weekly activities, including making gnocchi, visiting the famous Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, and experiencing day-to-day life in Orvieto, on the Study Abroad's Semester in Orvieto blog.

Also, stay in touch with other Saint Anselm students who are studying abroad across the globe.

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Story by Liliana Kane '16

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