Many of us have heard that most college students change their major(s) during the course of their studies. This applied to me freshman year when I switched my Biology major (curse you Gen Chem) to Anthropology, ending the year studying Music and Anthro. Back then, I thought that any significant changes to my degree were done; I was wrong.
As an Arts and Letters major, I had to fulfill a four semester language requirement. Italian seemed liked the logical choice to me for several reasons. Given my music major, Italian would be useful for singing classical repertoire, especially since I was applying to a summer music program at the time. The offered intensive program at ND (6 credits per semester) allowed me to fulfill the requirement twice as fast. Also, I had taken Spanish in high school, so I figured that would help with learning grammar patterns more quickly.
Making cookies with my great-grandmother
However, I think the strongest element that drew me to Italian was my own heritage (fun fact, October is Italian heritage month!). I am 25% Italian, and my great-grandparents were born in Italy. Growing up, my Italian relatives, especially my great-grandmother, were my role models. After she passed away, I became more motivated to explore my Italian heritage, such as saving and learning all her recipes.
Learning the Italian language and travelling to Italy were then on my bucket list, things I thought would be achieved much later in life. When my music and college experience allowed me to accomplish both those things in the past year, I seized that opportunity!! My courses in Italian Studies taught me so much about the language, history and culture, and all these things made me feel more connected with my Italian heritage. It was such a positive experience that I ended up adding the minor to my degree nearly halfway through my college career!
Feltre (BL), Veneto, Italy
Last July, I went to Italy for the first time to study operatic music. Knowing Italian helped me enjoy and appreciate both the program and living in Feltre. I could write full articles each about the food, music, art, landscapes, architecture, language and history that I encountered while there! I still incredibly miss the experience, especially the coffee (Starbucks just doesn’t compare).
Going into college, it had never occurred to me to study or even minor in Italian. However, I wouldn’t have my Notre Dame experience any other way!