Jordyn Spraker, one of the History majors who studied in Florence, Italy with Dr. Cara Delay in Spring 2022, has written a blog about her experiences. Jordyn was one of this year’s recipients of our John Winthrop Study Abroad Scholarship. Check out what she has to say:
My study abroad trip was a faculty-led program and therefore I had the unique opportunity to travel with and learn from CofC professors while living in Italy. One of my favorite aspects of the College of Charleston’s approach to education is the emphasis placed on interdisciplinary and intersectional studies. The analytical skills that I have developed during my time as a student in the Department of History traveled with me across the Atlantic and allowed me to study Italian history from an unconventional perspective.
Throughout the semester we learned that Italy places a lot of national significance on its Renaissance past. This can clearly be seen in the way the nation shapes its hospitality and tourism management around Renaissance-era philosophy, literature, and art. Renowned worldwide as being one of the most recognizable works of the Renaissance and of Italy itself, the David of Michelangelo is arguably a symbol of Italian identity and draws in crowds and revenue from around the globe.
By analyzing Italian history through an intersectional lens over the course of the semester, we began to recognize that Italy can be defined by so much more than the architecture and artwork produced by and for male Renaissance figures. For example, in studying the intimate connection food culture has with the lives of everyday people, we uncovered information on gender norms, spaces of commerce, and how people displayed affluence.
One of my favorite trips consisted of touring Pompeii to look at ancient fast-food joints and ancient brothels. Both of these spaces of commerce were deemed necessary for an orderly society to function properly. Touring Pompeii with a professional tour guide was certainly exciting, but having the opportunity to see this fascinating site with our professor from whom we had been learning was truly special. The opportunity to study history so immersively and in a place as rich with culture as Italy is a gift I can never repay.
In many ways, my study abroad experience felt like a second life. I put a pause on my normal, every-day routine and fell into a beautiful Italian dream. I walked the streets of Florence and the rolling hills of Chianti inebriated with sunshine, laughter, and the otherworldly experience of studying abroad. My time in Italy will forever hold some of my favorite memories and will be incomparable to any other trip I may take in the future. I want to thank each donor who generously offered scholarships for this study abroad experience, your contributions truly shaped my adventures abroad.