Sophia Viglione Spends a Semester in Siena, Italy


Sophia Viglione

Sophia Viglione, Baldwin Wallace junior, studying abroad in Siena, Italy

Studying abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to learn a new language, meet new people and absorb a different culture. This is exactly what Sophia Viglione, a BW junior, did last semester when she studied in the city of Siena in Italy, not too far from Rome, Florence and Pisa.
Viglione studied on the Siena Italian Studies Program with 50 other American students from Ohio, New York and Montana. As expected, Viglione had reservations about studying abroad, for example missing loved ones, but she threw herself into the Italian way of life and truthful to the stereotype, she ate a lot of pasta.
Viglione soon discovered that food and family were central in Italian culture. She was shocked at the amount of food that was consumed during dinner with her host family—especially when it started at 8 p.m. every night and continued for up to two hours.
Living with her host family was a major highlight for Viglione because she became truly immersed in the culture and the Italian way of life. Culture shock is a normal thing to experience when living away from family in a foreign country and Viglione was no exception.
Her biggest irritation was the awful Internet connection, which was difficult to deal with when she missed her friends and family from home. Viglione actually found the language barrier to be not much a barrier; in fact, it led to more laughs than awkward moments.
“At the beginning of the program, many of us already knew some Italian, but we weren’t great. In Italian, the cognate for excited actually means sexually excited. Let’s just say this led to some awkward conversation between my friend and her host mom when she told the host mom that she was excited that Obama won the election,” Viglione said.
College life was also very different. Viglione found that the Italians definitely knew how to take it easy and there was far less emphasis placed on extracurricular activities, unless it was wine tasting. Viglione found the workload easy to handle and manage, with more emphasis being placed on learning the language and there was the added bonus of never having too much homework.
All in all, Viglione had a great time and she certainly took advantage of the many opportunities to travel throughout Italy and Europe, including Rome, Venice, Florence, Paris, London and Prague.
Not only did Viglione get to travel, she got the chance to intern at a school where she taught English to second and third graders.
This was an “absolutely awesome [experience]” Viglione said, because it gave her a chance to practice her Italian and she learned about lesson planning and running a classroom, which she hopes to do in the future.
All good things must come to an end, and Viglione had to return to the U.S. Readjusting to the American time zone was difficult for Viglione. For two weeks she found it hard to stay awake past 7 p.m.
Though Viglione plans to go back to Italy to visit her host family in the future, her current priorities are graduating from BW and replenishing her post-study abroad bank account.