Ciao a tutti!
My name is Jamie D’Cruz and I took part in a summer school at Università Cattolica del Sacre Cuore in Italy during early Summer 2017.
My reason for doing this was that I wanted to find something new to do over the long break. It did not disappoint. I found it fairly straightforward to find a good range of summer school opportunities from the Southampton university website; the options ranged worldwide, from the US to Australia to China and closer to home in Europe, where I decided to go. I had some residual knowledge of Italian from GCSE so I thought that would be the logical place to start. Browsing through the available courses, one that piqued my interest was “The Global Wine Market: Trends and Strategies.” As a Chemistry student, there’s a link somewhere I’m sure between my course and wine industry. To go on the trip, Southampton gave me a £750 scholarship which was a huge help towards cost of flights, fees and accommodation.
Initially when I arrived at the university halls, I found it a little daunting considering all the other students were speaking to each other in an entirely different language, but when the course started on the first day (taught in English thankfully) I instantly became more comfortable. As a group everyone was friendly and easy going and the coordinating teachers made themselves very approachable. For the 2 weeks we stayed in Piacenza, just outside Milan and often during days after lectures we found we had the rest of the day to explore the city and sample some of the local food and wines. I always hold Italians up there as having the best food, and remember you can rely on TripAdvisor in any city to set you up with a top quality meal. The lectures themselves were very interesting; each of the professors you could see were very passionate about their subject. We had lessons on perceived wine quality, EU legislation, various winemaking regions of Italy and most interesting of all were the class tasting sessions. This gave us all a chance to attempt to diagnose a wine in terms of aroma and tasting notes. Admittedly it became more difficult as the session drew on. There were also day trips offered by the course and suggestions from the lecturers such as out to the Barolo winery, another local farm winery and one to a cheese factory where the famous Grana Padano is made. All this was part of the enogastronomic experience from a trip to Italian wine country. Over the fortnight I met some great people, most of whom I’m still in contact with through the wonders of modern social media.
A piece of advice for anyone planning on doing something like this is to throw yourself into anything that’s offered, make the most of it while you’re there because the two weeks were over at the drop of a hat. I went on my own which, at times leading up to it was nerve-wracking, but as long as you keep an open mind and relax then it’s something that you can really have a lot of fun with.