Written by Matt Colletti, a Junior studying business administration at the University of Southern California. Originally from Long Island, New York, Matt was the President of the Italian Honor Society at Manhasset High School, and was an elite/gold finisher in the National Italian Exam (NIE) all four years. After signing into Investment Banking with Bank of America’s NYC office, Matt is looking forward to returning home after graduation and finally getting to enjoy quality pizza again.
When it comes to attending college in the United States, there’s often extreme pressure for incoming students to conform to university norms and take on the culture and attitudes of those around them in the name of “belonging”. While these practices are understandable for a young individual making a seismic transition, as an Italian or Italian-American, that adjustment often comes at the expense of our cultural roots.
As a student here at the University of Southern California, I have witnessed both the struggles and success in this process, and today I will walk you through four key steps to take to maintain your Italian roots at the collegiate level.
1. On-Campus Involvement:
When it comes to maintaining any interest, it’s incredibly helpful to surround yourself with like-minded students. In fact, most universities have hundreds if not thousands of various on-campus clubs for this exact purpose. Personally I’ve attended pasta nights, cappuccino socials, Italian language nights, soccer games, and plenty more fun Italian events! Most importantly, some of your best friends will come from these events, and the shared Italian interest will keep the culture centric in your life.
2. Classes and Minors/Majors:
Most universities will also offer academic means of continuing your study of the beautiful Italian language. Maybe you don’t want to major in Italian, should you still prioritize classroom experience? Absolutely! Students can often pick up a “minor” through taking as few as four classes, or can take an Italian class to satisfy an academic requirement. This is a step that all students should seek out, because these courses will inherently compel you to maintain regular practice and exposure to the language.
3. Lifestyle Changes: Outside of the classroom and social scene, it’s vital to find little ways to keep the culture in your daily life. Easy ways include listening to Italian music (some awesome modern playlists on Spotify/Youtube/etc.), reading the news via Italian newspapers/apps, following Italian sports like soccer, or even eating great Italian food with friends!
4. Study Abroad:
One of the most immersive experiences, studying abroad in Italy is an unbelievable experience that every student should pursue if possible. While American communities can often mimic Italian ways, the best way to experience the culture is to be apart of it. Constant language use, historic sightseeing, best food and fashion markets, live Italian concerts/sports…the list goes on. Studying abroad in Italy is the perfect way to continue your Italian journey.