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Why you need to go to Italy!

Hello Italy lovers!

Welcome to the Italy Alive Blog Page! Well, I just wanted to take a moment to tell you a little about myself and why I believe so strongly in "travel abroad". But to do this, you need to know how I am connected to Italy and why it means so much to me. I was born to two Italian parents, Angelina and Mauro, on Long Island, NY. The town I am from is called Massapequa, and there are so many Italian and Jewish people there that it got the nickname: "Matzopizza"! When I was six years old my parents took the whole family to Italy to visit my grandmother in a seaside town on the Italian Riviera called Levanto. We stayed a month and I have vague, but sweet memories of my time there. My real attachment to Italy came when my mother was taking part in a competition at Macy's where she worked to sell carpet in order to earn air miles with TWA . When the competition was over, she received a phone call and was informed that there were 12,000 air miles left in the competition and they put all the participants names in a hat and they picked her! Needless to say, she wanted to return to Italy. But my father could not get off of work when she needed to use these miles, so she took me! We went for one week (all we could afford) but nonetheless, I was bitten by the bug! Within a year I was studying a semester of Architecture in Florence, Italy. It was my junior year at Syracuse University, and I lived with an Italian family and took intensive Italian (101 and 102!). I returned to the States to finish my degree but I was always dreaming of how I could go back. I graduated, got a job on Park Avenue in NYC, and was plotting my return the entire time. Within a year I saved enough money to returned to Florence and I lived there for two years where I worked for an architect and taught English at a private school for American English, as well as public Italian schools. This is where my fluency in Italian was perfected. I returned again to the States to pursue a master's degree at Cornell University in Interior Design so I could teach at the college level. The summer inbetween those two years I returned again to Italy with a research travel grant to do research for my thesis. During my second year at Cornell, I was awarded a FLAS Fellowship (a foreign language fellowship) that allowed me to continue studying Italian to aid in my research. Directly after graduation I worked as a tour guide on a five-week tour that traveled to six European countries (Italy, France, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria). When I returned, I began teaching at UGA and my first summer there I led a two-week, independent tour through five cities with UGA students. After that, I taught Interior Design with UGA for seven weeks each summer at their Verona, Italy program for five summers. In 2000, I obtained my Italian citizenship, so now I have dual citizenship :-) After that, for 3 years I was the Program Director and Leader of the Athens Technical College Italy Study Tour. I am a firm believer that getting out of this country, and out of your comfort zone will teach you things that you could never learn in your own country. There is an "understanding" that comes with seeing how other people do things. It is eye-opening to learn that people can live without a bagel...or a muffin...or stores being open 24/7. And it is exciting to learn how to eat things that you can't even pronounce! I hope, if you are coming on this trip, you are beginning to understand what a life-changing event this will be for you. And if you are still thinking about it, I hope you will seriously consider this opportunity. I promise, you will not be the same person when you return :-) Until next time... Arrivederci! Thea

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