Craig attended the School in Cortona in 2013. He has since returned to Italy for further studies, as well as spent time living and studying in Belgrade before starting an MA in anthropology here at the U of A. In Craig’s own words, here’s what the experience of participating in the School in Cortona program meant to him.
Italy is a place that has long captured the imagination. Countless films and television programs have featured its bright, rolling coastlines, classical ruins, its sights and sounds, its people, its life. Perhaps you can picture it right now, imagine yourself sipping espresso under the Tuscan sun, sampling wines and cheeses. Tires clicking over cobblestone (a Fiat, a Vespa) echoing down stone lined streets long after the car has disappeared from view. The scent of freshly laundered clothes drying on balconies wafting down into the street, mingling with the aroma of sautéed garlic, of chopped herbs drifting out of an open restaurant door.
For a few months in the Fall of 2013, this was my everyday. I wandered the streets of Cortona, a medieval hilltop town in the heart of Tuscany, bought fresh produce at the weekend market, watched the Champions League in a pub full of Juve supporters. I started to live like a local.
The town itself, and the landscape, became our classroom. We’d spend an hour or so in class learning the language. Then we were off to a local coffee shop to try to put our new skills into practice. Instead of only learning about Pompeii in a textbook and through a quick discussion we went there on a field trip over the weekend. Surrounding ourselves with it, feeling the stone beneath our feet… for a brief second we were sent back in time. Studying in Cortona gave me a chance to experience what I was learning in a way that I’d never really imagined.
But more than all this, I’ll remember the people I met along the way. I made some of my very best friends in Cortona, the kind of friends I’d even invite to a wedding. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I boarded that plane all those years ago. I’d travelled before but I’d never really lived anywhere other than my parents’ basement. And it changed me, for the better. I discovered a little bit more about myself. I know that’s cliche but anyone who has studied abroad will tell you the same thing; there’s something intangible about it that only those who’ve been through it will ever really understand.
If you’ve been thinking about applying, do it. If you’ve been on the fence, jump down to the other side. Take a chance, hop on that flight. Maybe you’ll find a part of yourself you’d buried deep, down inside. Let that part out. Discover it. Doors will open when it’s over. You won’t regret it. I know I certainly don’t.
Interested to learn how you can study in Italy? Read about the U of A School in Cortona here!
Edited for length and clarity Fall 2018