"This is the first time these students have experienced a complete cultural immersion. It is a challenge to survive and the only way to do so is to adapt to the culture. Our students become Italian!"
Robert LeFavi
AASU professor of health sciences

Semester abroad: A genuine taste of Italy


Take Italy's culinary delights, mix in its incomparable art, add a dash of survival language skills, and bake under the Tuscan sun. It is the recipe for an unforgettable experience.

Semester abroad in Siena began a few years ago with short trips to study the healthy olive oil-based cuisine of Italy. Robert LeFavi, a professor in health sciences, remembers returning students saying they wished they could go back for a semester. Building on his relationship with a local cooking school and cultural institute, he began to develop the full-blown semester long program that students now enjoy.

Students live in apartments and are totally immersed in the Italian language and culture. They learn to shop, take the intercity buses, navigate restaurants and live as the locals do.

"This is the first time these students have experienced a complete cultural immersion," LeFavi says. "It is a challenge to survive and the only way to do so is to adapt to the culture. Our students become Italian! They negotiate every aspect of Italian life. They adapt and grow there. It's guaranteed, no student ever comes home unchanged."

Italian educators teach courses on the Italian language and European economy and culture. LeFavi has taught nutrition and another health course. His AASU colleague, Jack Simmons, teaches medieval philosophy and ethics. Allison Belzer, AASU assistant professor of history, teaches modern Italian history and the history of Italian women.

Students often take side trips to Rome, Florence, and the Italian Riviera. Some of the more adventuresome strike out for places like Bologna and the island of Stromboli. In fact, by the end of the semester, they are so comfortable with European travel that the majority of students don't go home immediately. Instead, they extend their time with visits to many other places in Europe.

The next study abroad program in Siena will be offered in spring 2011. Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for further information.