ITALIAN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE INTERNSHIP
BY LILIANA MACIAS
JULY, 31, 2021
After a hectic return to the United States in the Spring of 2020, where I (and several other University of Oklahoma students) had to end their study abroad experience short, I never could have expected to be back in Italy so soon. After several applications, multiple cancellations of programs, and various conversations with genuinely extraordinary people, I was able to set up this Italian Language and Culture internship through the University of Oklahoma in Arezzo (OUA). Through transitions into the culture, growing friendships, and a wide variety of tasks, I have developed culturally, linguistically, and professionally.
This summer, I was the very first student to serve as the Italian Language and Culture intern for OU in Arezzo. I navigated an assortment of tasks ranging from translations, transcribing, interviewing, researching, managing social media posts, and creating videos while utilizing the Italian language in some variation. At first, I was overwhelmed by the uncertainty I was experiencing while in Italy. I was back in Arezzo once again, and it felt almost as if I had never left, yet at the same time, it was almost surreal that I was actually in Europe. I experienced the differences in Arezzo that made me realize that a year indeed had passed, such as the new COVID-19 restrictions, the opening and closing of different shops, and the expansion of my Italian comprehension and speaking levels. However, over the summer, I have grown and adjusted to being in Italy once again and overcome personal and professional barriers to provide the best version of myself as an intern for OUA. This included taking on projects out of my comfort zone, learning how to say no to tasks I knew I would not be able to complete well, and balancing professional, academic, and personal responsibilities in Italy and the United States. These all occurred while competing against a steep time zone difference. While I worked on a wide variety of tasks, I was incredibly proud of how I was able to prep, conduct, transcribe, and translate an interview, all while improving and utilizing my Italian.
A lot of my time as the Italian Language and Culture intern meant that I dedicated various hours to researching information, finding the correct way to translate it for posts, blogs, or other content, and then writing down all of the words I did not previously know. These tasks took up a good portion of my day, too, as I soon realized how heavy translations could be, especially when translating (quick) spoken Italian. I enjoyed being able to structure a lot of my day on my own as I only had to come down from my room and into the office in order to begin my work. This meant too that I could work diligently during the weekday so that I would have the opportunity to visit different areas of Italy during the weekends.
Traveling to various regions and cities in Italy allowed me to gain a further understanding of just how diverse the Italian language is when it comes to dialect, grammar, and overall tone of voice. These experiences in Pompeii, Assisi, Poppi, Cinque Terre, Sorrento, and much more were moments that truly provided me with a new perspective on the impact of language on culture. Throughout my time in these diverse areas, I picked up on certain words and phrases that are more frequently used in the north, the south, or the central regions of Italy. I also recognized how the landscape of the regions held an impact on what is done in each section of Italy and how those within these sections interact with one another. It was particularly interesting to see the various perspectives Italians have over human issues and how traditions are shifting to adhere to social change.
I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to study abroad in Italy once again and create experiences and memories I had hoped to make last year. My time here has completely altered how I perceive many of my interactions with other individuals within the United States and Italy while allowing me to immerse myself in the Italian culture. I hope to one day come back to Italy and see how time will change this beautiful country. I know that my experiences abroad will provide me with a platform to create significant change in the future as I am a now more globally engaged individual who has worked in cross-cultural communications. My goal now is to take what I have gained from Italy and showcase these skills and experiences with other students who want to study abroad despite the barriers that may stand in their way. My only regret is having to leave Italy so soon once again.
Ciao OU in Arezzo and Italy! Thank you for these unforgettable moments in my life.