Abigail

 

Abigail Peters is double majoring in Peace and Justice and Politics at Denver’s Regis University. The feature story below captures her perspectives on life in Bologna.

 

I come from a city where community is important, hospitality is warmly given, and friends are easily made. In choosing to study abroad, I was somewhat apprehensive about finding a place that would feel like home. Bologna, Italy turned out to be exactly the type of place where I felt welcomed and at ease during my time away from the comfort of my American lifestyle.

Bologna is a city of authenticity. If you want to become completely immersed in Italian cuisine, language, and lifestyle then you are looking in the right direction. This magnificent city has not only provided me with the skills I need to function in Italian society, but it also has given me the priceless gift of acceptance into the local community. While strolling along the narrow streets in the city center I find myself constantly running into friends I have made during my time here. And yes, these friends are Italian and prefer to speak their native tongue, so I am using the Italian language daily.

These friends I have made are among the many students attending the oldest European school, the University of Bologna. Each day, and night, you can find hundreds of students crowded in the piazzas celebrating the passing of a literature exam, laughing and talking over each other during a coffee break, or even protesting an unjust global issue. During the weekends, a huge open market springs up in the square and thousands of people are buying African art, Italian loafers, and bouquets of flowers. Bologna comes alive on Saturdays, with hoards of locals taking over the streets near Piazza Maggiore, selling chocolate, performing musical talents, blowing gigantic bubbles, and having bicycle auctions. The best part of being swept away by this crowd is that there are a limited number of tourists. Believe me, after traveling around to the beautiful, famous cities of Rome, Venice, and Cinque Terre, getting lost in the shuffle of thousands of tourists waving umbrellas in the air and wearing gaudy Hawaiian t-shirts, you will be begging for the Bolognese local community. However, I did love the ability to travel during my free weekends while I was abroad.

Bologna has an international airport that makes flying to other European countries very convenient and also has an efficient and busy train station that allowed me to travel throughout Italy. Because of Bologna’s location in Northern Italy, students here have the ability to take day trips to cities like Verona, Pisa, Florence, Milan, and Assisi. Being able to take these trips with friends during weekends was a crucial part of my study abroad experience. The people I traveled with became my great friends, and because us SHC Italy Center students are all from American Universities, our community made traditions from home come alive in Bologna. This great, intimate group of students formed a bond over the many classes we had together and trips we took for school to Croatia, Bosnia, Rome, Poland, and Puglia. Needless to say, this program has provided me with many great opportunities and equally as many friends. When choosing my study abroad program, I truly had no idea just exactly what I was getting myself into. But, I would have to say that I am genuinely content with the city with which I have called home for the past four months.

I have grown to love Italians for their zest for life and love of robust flavors of food. Bologna, this program, and my teachers and mentors have been significant factors in this outstanding, authentic oversees experience. All in all, I have obtained more than I had ever dreamed during my time in “Italia” and it will be difficult to top such a remarkable semester. One does not regret their time abroad in Bologna.

Abigail Peters
Regis University
SHC Italy Center Fall 2014