International Connections

Emily Qualizza

Major: Nutritional Science/Dietetics

Year: Sophomore
Hometown, State: Downers Grove, Illinois

Type of experience: Faculty-Led Program
Experience: For the Love of Italy and Food
Experience website:
Destination: Italy

Overall experience..
My experience was a two week trip to Italy where we visited five cities; Rome, Florence, Tuscania, Parma and Milan. During the two weeks, we toured the cities with guides, ate amazing meals at a plethora of restaurants and took cooking classes in Florence. Not only did we prepare food, but we also traveled to several food production plants to watch how olive oil, wine and packaging for processed foods are made.

I learned...
I heard about this experience through another student who went on the program two years prior.

An impact to my life...
This trip to Italy changed my life completely, as I have never been out of the country. It took me out of my comfort zone and showed me that I love to indulge in other cultures, as well as be surrounded by a world I have never seen before. My education in culinary grew in abundance through the classes with the chefs, and I feel like my passions for cooking grow more and more by the minute as I continue to use my skills as home. Professionally, I was able to really get out there and network, talking with tons of different people, which is a huge part of ANY career.

My most valuable learning experience...
The most valuable thing I learned in Italy is that being in your comfort zone is not a way to live; whether that be with a new food or traveling without a chaperone to a place you may be unsure of. I learned that life is too short to second guess and it is so worth it to live in excitement. In Italy I feel like I constantly was stepping outside of my comfort zone and it felt AMAZING to break free from it!

I will never forget...
The most memorable experience I have from Italy was definitely traveling up a large (18 percent grade!) hill to Fiesole for the day! It was such a challenge but it was such a blast and a ton of us grew so much closer because of it.

A surprising discovery...
I did not expect how open I would be to change in the plans and in the ever-changing meal times! I'm a scheduled person so it felt good to get over that and realize that life is not a schedule. It doesn't work like that!

Advice for others...
If you are even considering... do it! And make sure to take advantage of every second!!!

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