La Dolce Vita: Living, Learning, and Eating in Italy

By Quinn Western, senior journalism major

I’m a senior journalism student spending my last semester at Chico State in Viterbo, Italy. It’s a small, medieval town where few of the community members speak English and finding avocados is a struggle. The city center where I live, is enclosed by towering stone walls. My apartment building is thousands of years old (which explains why I have to pile on the blankets at night) and is said to have housed cardinals. Viterbo (about a two-hour train ride from Rome) was once an official home for the Pope as well.

Quinn Western, a senior journalism major, is spending her last semester abroad in Viterbo, Italy. She lives just a quick train ride to Rome equivalent to the drive from Chico to Sacramento.
Quinn Western, a senior journalism major, is spending her last semester abroad in Viterbo, Italy. She lives just a quick train ride to Rome equivalent to the drive from Chico to Sacramento.

I learned quickly that my time in Europe would be filled with “Oops,” “Mi dispiace, parlo un po Italiano,” “What did I just eat?” and “How do you say that?”

I’ve been lost, frustrated, mocked, and had some of the best laughs of my life.

There’s no exact routine to life abroad, except for cafés and school, of course, but here’s a peek into my daily life.

7:30 – Wake up and make a flawless cup of coffee. (Insert Beyoncé reference here.) The coffeemaker in our little Hobbit hole-like apartment is an adorable, small, steam-punk-esque contraption that produces life every morning with little care.

9:00 – I walk 10 minutes to school and start the day in my Italian language course. I learn why people looked at me funny when asking for face wash (apparently I was aggressively repeating “I do wash!”). Everyone in brings their mistakes to class. We all learned to get over the embarrassment pretty quickly.

Quinn Western and Charlie Mowery geek out over the famous David in Florence, Italy.
A classroom subject come to life: Western visits Michelangelo’s famous David statue in Florence, Italy.

11:00 – Every week, I either sit in cuisine lecture or indulge in a hands-on cooking class. On other days of the week, I have more Italian language courses and classes in photography, travel writing, and Italian art during the Renaissance. It boggles my mind to read about Michelangelo’s David and then just pop up to Florence for a quick trip to see it. Or to turn a corner in Rome and be greeted by the Coliseum.

15:00 – It’s off to the local gym, where the walls are thousands of years old and maybe the same goes for the equipment. The owner, Egido, was a boxer in his day and always tries to teach some new phrases to the American students who are members. It took 10 minutes of him punching toward my confused face to figure out that he was teaching me boxing terms and phrases in Italian.

Quinn Western and her roommate Sara McGuire, both Chico State students, celebrating carnevale in Venice, Italy. Masks, capes, and all.
Western and her roommate Sara McGuire, both Chico State students, celebrated Carnevale in Venice earlier this year.

17:00 – This is a typical homework/social time over a cafè. Sometimes I’ll hang with some locals, like my friend Salvatore who is helping me read Harry Potter in Italian, at Cafe San Sisto. It’s a modern-looking cafe with white couches on the second floor and complete with a Nutella stool (their Nutella is to our peanut butter—it’s everywhere). The seats are filled with chattering teenagers from the high school down the street and grandfathers bickering over Lazio and Roma futbol players.  Few locals speak English, which gives plenty of opportunities to embarrass ourselves and practice. Ricardo at San Sisto is very patient when I order and practice conversing, and so is the woman at the minimart by my apartment from whom I have ordered way too much buffalo mozzarella.

19:00 – Aperitivo. This is one of the best times to make friends and enjoy a variety of new, fresh foods. While I enjoy indulging in the unknown, it’s good to double-check what foreign foods you’re eating. My roommate, a vegetarian, accidentally ate pig cartilage at Mangia Mangia, a warm, hipster jazzy bar. If I’m not eating out in the medieval nightlife, I often throw together pasta or other new recipes I learned in cuisine class. My favorite to make so far is the eggplant lasagna, a greasy, cheesy, deep-fried Sicilian dish.

Western and McGuire snacking by the heater in their centuries old apartment.
Western and McGuire snacking by the heater in their centuries old apartment.

21:00 – This time after dinner is usually dedicated to homework, socializing, and/or trip-planning. In Italian culture, dinner is eaten very late, sometimes not until 21:00. But the great thing about mealtime in Italy is that it’s always an event. Most nights there’s a buzz at the door, and we’re surprised by a fellow student or local pal coming up the stairs for a visit. When writing this and looking at my shrinking jeans, I’ve realized that my life revolves around food more than ever before. The palette is what brings people together here.

So, although my average day in Viterbo is filled with new experiences and sights (and a lot more espresso), the friendly community and student camaraderie keep me from getting too homesick for Chico. (I still really miss the abundance of avocados though.) My time here comes to an end in a few weeks as I head home for graduation, but I know I’ll be bringing back pieces of Italian culture and so many lessons learned with me.

A Day in the Life of a Wildcat

By Quinn Western, social media and photography intern

Here’s a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of three Chico State students. Sara McGuire is a junior communication studies major with a minor in nutrition and food sciences. Senior Ryan Clare is studying environmental science with a concentration in atmosphere and climate studies, and is a member of the award-winning speech and debate team. Emily Duran is a senior on the volleyball team who is studying journalism with a minor in Spanish.

GSEC Presents “Consent: It’s Required”

By Rachel Ward, Gender and Sexuality Equity Center Intern Coordinator

The AS Gender and Sexuality Equity Center (GSEC) is taking a stand against sexual assault. In October 2014, GSEC’s Women’s Program developed a mini video series on the topic of consent. The videos were released over a period of three weeks during the fall semester, each premiering at the center’s weekly Feminist Friday event in Trinity Commons before being posted online.

Continue reading GSEC Presents “Consent: It’s Required”

’Cat Tales: Students Practice Sustainability, Diversity, and Community Involvement

By Quinn Western, social media and photography intern

Sustainability on the Wall

The rock wall at the WREC has some new kicks, and no, I’m not referring to the new climbers.wrecClimbingShoes

The wall, which is run by Adventure Outings, received a new shipment of climbing shoes last month, which put the old ratty tatty pairs out of service.

Not wanting to just toss the shoes in the trash, Olivia VanDamme, a supervisor at the wall, took steps to secure an alternative fate for them.

Continue reading ’Cat Tales: Students Practice Sustainability, Diversity, and Community Involvement

’Cat Tales: 10 Campus Hacks For Saving Money on Campus

By Quinn Western, social media and photography intern

There are a lot of great things about being a Wildcat—class breaks by the creek, free access to the WREC, cat puns—but being a ferocious feline comes with so many more perks. Here are 10 ways Chico State students can save some cash that you might not have known about.

Continue reading ’Cat Tales: 10 Campus Hacks For Saving Money on Campus

Cross-Cultural Leadership Center Hosts Diversity Summit

The Cross-Cultural Leadership Center (CCLC) held a Diversity Summit in Nevada City Oct. 3-6. The goal of the weekend was to build relationships by encouraging participants to step out of their comfort zone. Below, CCLC inclusion coordinator Maisue Thao shares a peek into the weekend’s events.

By Maisue Thao, senior media arts and Asian studies double major

The most important aspect of Diversity Summit is the fact that 100 strangers really become a family in just two days. This Diversity Summit was motivational and really brought me back to the true values that I stand for. There were many highlights of the entire retreat, but there were two that really stood out to me.cclc group

Continue reading Cross-Cultural Leadership Center Hosts Diversity Summit

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