Learning a language is not easy.
Not many have an innate ability to be polyglots, and it is not often that you are able to regurgitate the little language you do know. However, when you do indeed pick up a language, you can experiment the joy of communicating with natives.
Out of the many initiatives promoted by the Romance Language Department, the newly established Sorrento program stands out. In order to better understand the program and the experiences associated with it, the Old Gold & Black interviewed professor Rémi Lanzoni and students Kevin Olsen, Maddie Arnel and Mary Taormina who went on the program.
If I were to choose this program, what topics/things would I be studying?
The Sorrento program is an immersion language based experience. Italian language and culture is predominant during the five weeks. In addition, students take a Humanities course, which covers the main master pieces of Italian literature, from Dante until Roberto Saviano.
What are the benefits of language learning in the actual country versus in a classroom at Wake Forest?
Language classrooms never exceed seven or eight students at a time in Sorrento, so a great attention is given to students. In addition, as soon as the class is over there are many opportunities to put into practice whatever has been learned in class. Also having family home stays helps tremendously to keep the practice ongoing for five weeks.
Why did you choose Sorrento?
The Sorrento Summer program was an easy choice for me as a student pursuing the school of business. Often times it is not easy to go abroad for an entire semester and also stay ahead on credits. Sorrento afforded me the opportunity to take additional credits and also spend a month in Italy.
How was your family stay?
My family stay was beneficial to my Italian language skills, but difficult to deal with at times. I lived in one room of an apartment with two other students. The family ate a very small breakfast (which is typical in Italy) and a very big dinner. It took me a while to adjust to the eating schedule and also the living space.
What are some of the strengths of this program?
The strengths of this program are the opportunities to stay with a family and to study in an institute where I could meet students from other schools. Geographically, Sorrento is a great location because everything is within walking distance and travelling to other staple locations of Italy is not difficult. The excursions involved in this program also add to the experience. The trips that all the students and professor took were able to allow us to grow closer and gave us a fresh perspective to the history of where we were staying.
What excursions do students get to do?
Excursions for the Summer 2016 program included a tour of Pompeii, the Archeological Museum of Naples and a guided tour of Sorrento. These experiences allowed us to further appreciate the culture with which we were immersed.
How was your family stay?
My family stay was amazing. My host parents were two of the nicest people I have ever met. They made sure that we felt welcomed in their home and in their city. My host mom made us breakfast and dinner every day. It was a great way to taste some of the local cuisine of Sorrento and to try things that I have never had before — she was an amazing cook. The family I stayed with had three daughters who were 24, 20 and 18. They were great resources for us because they were so close in age to me. They helped make the transition into life in Italy much easier. I helped them with their English, and they helped me with my Italian. I still keep in touch with the daughters and I hope to see them when I return to Italy this summer.
What are the characteristic of this program vs. Venice?
I think one of the key characteristics of the Sorrento program is the fact that this is a homestay. Through the homestay, you are able to form relationships with locals. It is also a way to full immerse yourself in the Italian culture for five weeks. Another strength is the fact that classes are held at the Sant’Anna Institute where you can meet students from all over the world.
Learning a language is a way to expand our horizons and learn new cultures. It is also essential to communicate with people. I want to believe in a world where people from different cultures and races can communicate with each other, so it is more important now than ever to learn another language.