I have been in Perugia one week now, and I have to say this experience is nothing like I expected! Better or worse, you ask? Well to be perfectly honest it is neither. It is just different!
I arrived last Sunday along with the two other American students (Cecelia and Savannah) who came with me to Perugia (the 14 other students are studying either in Germany, Singapore, or Scotland). We were picked up at the main train station by my supervisor Professor Vaccaro. He is awesome! Thankfully he speaks English very well and was kind enough to drive us to our dorm. He helped us move in which was very needed since none of the directors of the dorm speak English. We later found out that we are the only American students living in the dorm!
The next day, Professor Vaccaro led us three to see our new laboratories. The lab I am in is one of the newest labs in the building. While my advisor for the summer is Professor Vaccaro, I am under the supervision of a graduate student named Giacomo. Luckily for me the international language of chemistry is English so when they explained my project to me, I was able to understand well what my project for the summer will be (more about that on a later post).
I have come to realize that what has best prepared me for this are the experiences so far in my life. The past two summers working at AbbVie have helped me immediately jump into a unknown lab and start working. It also helped to adjust to unknown living conditions as well. My semester abroad in Austria in the spring semester of 2013 also has helped me adjust quickly to the European way of life here and feel comfortable traveling.
There is one major difference between my Austria experience and my time here. In Austria, we were constantly with Americans. I lived, travelled, and studied with 160 American students. A lesson Savannah, Cecelia, and I learned very fast is that not many people here speak English…at all. We have not met any American students who study at the University of Perugia. I have been told that most are actually studying at the University for Foreigners which is down the road from the University of Perugia. The language barrier is probably the toughest part of this experience. I will probably be fluent in Italian at the end of this!
We have made some friends so far though! There is one student from Djibouti who lives in our hall and speaks a little bit of English. He introduced us to his friends who are from Italy and Albania. We have also met people from Palestine who live in the actual city of Bethlehem! This is truly an international university!
What about the city of Perugia? It is one big hill. Everywhere I walk, I have to climb endless stairs. It is also extremely beautiful and has wonderful views! I can even see Assisi from the city center! I have had gelato everyday but have lost weight from all the uphill climbing I do daily.
This weekend was an Italian holiday so I didn’t have to work on Monday which allowed me to settle in more and also go to Assisi! I will let you know how that turned out. For now I must go, but I do ask for your prayers while I am over here so that I may grow in holiness and knowledge!
Chemistry Joke of the Blog Post:
Why do chemists like nitrates so much?
They’re cheaper than day rates!
If there is one thing that I have learned in my time at Franciscan, it is that God must think He is pretty funny. No seriously. I mean it. In high school my least favorite subject of all time was Chemistry (sorry Mrs. Herbig). I HATED Chemistry. Ok, well, not hated, but very strongly disliked. Now here I am approaching my senior year with one of my majors being Chemistry. Am I crazy? Well maybe. But here is how it came to be…