Ciao! Hello and welcome to my Italian 203 portfolio. As a quick introduction to my introduction, my name is April Pradhan. I am junior from Seattle, WA and I am studying Economics and Women Studies. My first experience and start to Italian is similar to many other Duke students. I had previously studied Spanish extensively in middle and high school, but I did not feel prepared to start at a 300 level Spanish class at Duke freshman year. I heard generally good things about the Italian Department at Duke, and my friend was taking it so I signed for fall of my sophomore year not expecting more than a graduation requirement.
Although I can now appreciate the detailed and time consuming 101 and 102, at the time I was frustrated with the amount of grammar work, tests, and quizzes that we were taking. It seemed that each week we had another quiz or test to take. However I now see a strong base in the basic tenses and structures of the Italian language as essential to understanding the Italian culture. A theme that has been discovered throughout my three semesters, is the connection between the language and culture of Italian. An example of this in my portfolio can be seen with the interview with Ryan. When she discusses her familiarity with her host family and her experiences in Italy, she can express them in colloquial terms and an informal manner. This informal vs formality reflects an aspect that is missing in the English language, and allows Italian speakers to deeply show their appreciation and closeness with something.
One of the most influential experiences on my understanding the Italian culture and language was my trip to Rome during my time abroad. I had visited Italy before taking any Italian and at that time I really had no comprehension of what it meant to be an Italian or anything about the Italian culture. When I visited Rome this fall, so many aspect that I had learned in 101 and 102 about the Italian culture stood out to me such as the church and the food. I finally was able to use the few and sparse phrases that I had learned, like “Vorrei un gelato” or knowing to say “Buongiorno”. I also had an opportunity to witness how dynamic Italy and its culture is. In Italian 101 and 102, I had created a beautiful country full of wine, food, and rolling hills. By visiting Rome, I was able to see how Italy is country with those aspects, but also an active and progressive country with many real and relevant problems. This was especially apparent to me when I visited the Vatican as they were checking everyone’s passports and questioning suspicious people just one week after the Paris attacks. While the majority of my time in Rome was spent doing many touristy activities like getting gelato, visiting the Vatican and speaking english, it was a turning point in my relationship to the Italian culture and language. When I left Rome, I left with an excitement and appreciation towards the Italian culture and country.
The pieces of work that I chose for this portfolio aim to reflect this passion and interest in learning about the real Italy and the real Italian culture that was sparked during my time abroad. The Italian 203 curriculum’s units allowed me and my other classmates to have a lot of control and opportunity to what parts of Italian culture we studied. The pieces surrounding culture, such as the pieces on immigration, food, and museums reflect my interest in learning more about Italian culture and understanding the truth about behind many the stereotypes that still exist today. My favorite piece that I choose was my reflection on my experiences with tavola. I really have enjoyed going to the tavola events as they have given me an opportunity to meet other parts of the Italian department and learn niche facts about Italy! The other pieces in my portfolio, such as my interview, my grammar reflection and my vocabulary reflection reflect my wish to continue my Italian language experience and ability to communicate in Italian. This semester I have worked hard to improve my pronunciation and communication skills, two aspects that I have struggled with in previous semesters. I further realized when visiting Italy, communication orally is essential towards maintaining Italian relations and getting around. As I have an Italian friend from abroad, I hope to further improve my skills by speaking to her.
Although I am not continuing my formal Italian education, I really want to continue to keep my Italian skills that I have gain in these past three semesters. I plan to do this by continuing speaking in Italian to my abroad friend regularly. I have already noticed how practicing everyday has improved my conversational Italian. Further I plan to continue to explore Italian culture in a various of small ways. I already am drawn to Italian focused articles when I am reading the New York Times and plan to continue to keep up with Italian news. Further I think the best thing I can do is to continue to explore different aspects of the Italian culture in other aspects of my education and everyday life, such as searching for the most authentic Italian restaurant in a new city, or look at Italy in my economics classes. Learning about Italian culture and the Italian language has allowed me to have a less American centric view in both my everyday life and has inspired me to incorporate the Italian culture and ideas into my life!