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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Say What? Come si dice…?

So it’s hard to believe, but I’ve been living in Rome for a month. Gulp. It’s been an amazing experience thus far and I have to say I’m very grateful of the fact that I studied Italian. Yes, yes, I know there is a great divide between the kids who say “I don’t need to study Italian” and “it’s imperative to learn the language!” but let me speak about this issue for just a minute. I don’t think it’s necessary to study Italian in Rome, before Rome, after Rome, ever! I don’t. HOWEVER, it does help. A lot. It helps you to feel less like an idiot when you want a croissant. Everyone, every single person in Italy, speaks Italian. Everyone who lives here. Everyone indigenous. But not everyone speaks English. So knowing how to say even a few things in their language is very impressive. It helps. People are a lot nicer to you, you can get a lot more done, you make a lot more friends, and Luca at the bar will remember you, and ask you how your day is going and how your Italian cinema class is. And no one wants to be that guy mumbling with one finger poking towards that tramezzino with errr… ham?

That’s why I highly recommend the Italian intensive. I was not in the beginner class because I took 7 years of Italian pre-college. And still, even I have trouble navigating la città eterna. But I watched my friends, who knew no Italian upon arrival, transform HUGELY. I mean immensely. In the beginning, they felt like stumbling tourists and they expressed difficulty and embarrassment in endeavoring to execute even the simplest tasks. Thanks to the intensive class, they’ve become more confident and comfortable. The enormous difference two weeks can make! The class is also a fun, relaxing start to the semester. The teachers take you out and get you into real life situations like asking for directions, ordering food, conducting interviews… the whole deal. And you get to establish footings in the city while you’re doing the intensive.  Personally, I’m in the process of reawakening my dormant Italian. And I feel like the language is helping me learn more from my architecture and art classes, as well as the city around me. After the Italian intensive ends, the real Italian class begins and the benefits are well worth the commitment of 3 hours and 45 minutes a week. It’s the perfect intellectual topper to your schedule here in Rome!

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