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My name is Michael Karamardian, and I am currently a sophomore studying Italian at Duke University. I hope this introductory post gives you some insight into my motivation for studying Italian, as well as into my overall impressions of the language and the knowledge I have gained as a result of especially Italian 203.

Back in middle school, I was fortunate enough to have the option to begin studying Latin, which was not the norm for most middle schools in my area. I continued studying Latin through my high school years, culminating over seven years of study by methodically analyzing the famous works of writers such as Vergil, who wrote The Aeneid, and Julius Caesar, with his famous Gallic War. Reading these works and others in their original language brought out so much more meaning and complexity than any English translation could afford. In short, I loved studying Latin.

However, during my years studying Latin I was fortunate enough to take a trip with my class to Rome to visit the ancient ruins and places that we had been studying. While the trip truly brought to life the Coliseum, the Pantheon, and the Forum, the trip also had an unexpected effect. While in Rome, I became very interested in the Italian language and the culture of the people living there in Rome today. It seemed so interesting and unique, and honestly very different from the mirage that is perpetuated in America as to what Italian culture and life truly is. Thus, when I had the opportunity to study Italian language and culture here at Duke, I was very excited to finally explore this culture to which I had been so quickly exposed to.

Italian 101 and 102 were the foundations upon which Italian 203 has been able to build. In these previous two courses, I learned the solid foundation of my new ability to read, write, and speak in Italian. However, neither class really satiated my interest in the Italian culture and people the way that Italian 203 has been able to do. Throughout this course, we completed several projects that were all focused on different parts of Italian life, allowing us to build a more complete knowledge of Italian culture. From a poster project about food in Italy to a presentation regarding a comparison of Italian and American museums to an interview of an Italian national living in America, the amount of knowledge that I gained about Italian culture was eye opening, to say the least.

While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the different projects and the unique ways in which they fostered our encounters and explorations of Italian language and culture, our interview with Erasmo was especially important to me in terms of understanding the differences between Italian and American cultures. His commentary into the little insights between life in the United States and Italy were extremely helpful in illuminating the true differences between the cultures.

The biggest struggle for me throughout Italian 203 has been working on my ability to speak in the moment. For me, thinking of vocabulary in Italian on the spot while I am in dialogue with another person is one of the most difficult parts of learning a language. Through the various ways that I have been able to practice this during the varied projects involving presentations and videos, I have been able to increase my proficiency in my ability to speak Italian very much through Italian 203.

This site contains several pieces of my time through Italian 203 and my journey to study Italian language and culture. The pieces that I’ve chosen to highlight through this online portfolio all offer a unique perspective on my learning of the content, on my progression through the course, or on my personal thoughts regarding the language, culture, and people that I had the opportunity to study through this class.