“The Italians seem to be very good people; it is enough to see the children and people as simple as I see them—and I can really see them because I’m always around them, and I wish to stay that way. What characters, what faces!”
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, “Journey to Italy”, 1816
Born in: Lawrence, Kansas (USA)
Age: 23 years
Enrolled in: Italian language course A2 / B1 at the “Siena School for Liberal Arts”
We continue our “Journey to Italy” with Alexandra, a young American student who studies the Italian language at the Siena School For Liberal Arts. She told us about her experience studying and living in our country. Her path is a particular one: an initial experience studying abroad in Italy birthed a desire to use the Italian language to study the subject that fascinated her the most: Art History. She found a home for her studies in one of the famed medieval cities, the city of Siena. Here is the story of Alexandra’s “Journey to Italy”.
Alexandra, can you tell us about your experience studying the Italian language in our country?
“With pleasure! I am currently attending an Italian language course in Siena. This is my second time studying in Italy, as I was here for four months in 2016. I came here for the first time on a semester abroad with the “Siena School for Liberal Arts”. At that time, I studied mainly two subjects, Art History (in English), and an Italian language course at the A1 / A2 level. The language class consisted of seven American students. I had never studied Italian in the United States, so I designed my semester abroad with both an English-taught course related to my interests (Art History), and a basic course in the Italian language. Upon my return to the United States I graduated with a degree in Art History from The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. I decided to return to Italy to resume studying the language. The program I am now attending will be my focus until May 2018, when I will return to the United States to complete the pre-enrollment procedure for an Italian university where I will continue my university studies.”
Why did you choose Siena as a place to learn Italian? And what are your projects today?
“I want to study Italian because next year I intend to enroll in a Master’s Degree in Art History—which is offered, in Italian, by the University of Siena. Ultimately, it just seemed fitting to return to Siena to study the language, and in any case, there were not many courses being offered in the city of Wooster. I enrolled in the Siena School for Liberal Arts again, this time to attend an Italian language course at the B1 / B2 level. In addition to studying Italian here, I work in maintaining the school’s social media pages and blog.”
Did you know that the city you live in, Siena, has a twin in the city of Weimar? This town is the burial site of writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His is the “Journey to Italy” that we trace in this column, through the experiences of foreign students who come here to study the Italian language and culture.
“No, I did not know that the cities were twins! I live in the center of Siena, and I find the city extremely interesting. It is rich in culture, history and traditions, and at the same time it is inhabited by many people from different parts of Italy and the world. I feel that Siena’s most beautiful work of art is the “Majesty of the Duomo of Siena” by Duccio di Buoninsegna. Additionally, I find “Palazzo Pubblico” particularly interesting, with its fresco about the “Good and the Bad Government” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. In general, I find the artistic works in Siena to be far more remarkable than those in Florence. I want to study Medieval Italian art in depth and detail, and as such, I feel confident that my time here studying the Italian language is both a unique and advantageous opportunity. I am certain this degree will prove useful in the future by allowing me to teach Art History, work in a museum, or be involved in any field related to medieval art.”
How do you imagine your future?
“My dream would be to work in Italy since I love this country and I find Italians very friendly, kind, and eager to meet new people. The only negative thing I notice in them is the tendency to close themselves in groups. I think this is based on the fact that they always see my presence as temporary—I am a person who will leave sooner or later. Or perhaps it is just that in seeing it this way, I tend to isolate myself a bit in response. I spend most of my time with my American friends with whom I enjoy taking walks in the city and eating fresh Italian food. It is the sublime art of this place. For just as Goethe says in his “Journey to Italy”: “If there is a joy in what is good, there is a greater one still: to feel what is best; and in art, only the best is good enough.”