Todi, Italy: Italian Language, Art History, and Culture (Summer)
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Samantha Landmesser

Liberal Arts Major(s): Comparative Literature, Philosophy
Minor: Italian, French, Arabic
Hometown: Warrington, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part was sharing the experience with a group of really dedicated students. There were only thirteen other students; they all came from different backgrounds, and it was really amazing to get to know them. I thought it was amazing seeing all the ancient sites of different Italian cities, and the walk through places, while exhausting and sweaty, was the most enriching because it gave time for introspection and conversation with the other students. Furthermore, the home-stay was amazing because by the end I cared so much for my host family and miss them so much. We formed such a close bond, and the home-cooked food was so comforting and brought me closer to the true spirit of the country.

The walk through places, while exhausting and sweaty, was the most enriching because it gave time for introspection and conversation with the other students

How did this experience impact you academically?

Brunella Brizzi was an amazing professor and made sure that we were academically challenged in Italian, expecting perfection and never letting us slide with any grammar errors. Since she is from Italy, she knows the grammar better than anyone, and she knows small aspects of the culture as well. She would give us extra readings so that we could understand cultural context better, and she was the one who helped set us up with all of our internships. Professor Brizzi was strict, but she also believed in us even when we were discouraged by how difficult and new everything seemed.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

This experience opened my eyes to the challenges of living abroad. If I am to start my career in a foreign country like I had always hoped, there will be a lot more challenges and adaptations required than I initially expected. This experience has made me much more sympathetic to those who immigrate from their home countries and must adapt to different cultures. It is not just general differences, but small changes that effect everyday life in ways that one did not even realize particularly mattered. After this experience, I feel I can communicate better and make deeper and more lasting bonds with people who are much different than me. I also feel more confident speaking in foreign languages because, although my accent may not be perfect, it is only through opening myself up to constructive criticism that I will improve with the language and show that I care about the people I am speaking with.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program along with the Liberal Arts Enrichment Funds helped to fund my trip. I would not have been able to go on this trip if it were not for the financial aid that the program offered me. Paterno Fellows also inspires me to increase my academic rigor by increasing the number of degrees I pursue. After spending such a long time in Italy, my professors have been encouraging me to pursue Italian as a third major, and being a Paterno Fellow has given me the confidence to consider myself capable.

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