Orientation was a weeklong program filled with activities, speeches, and excursions in order to help both the freshmen and the older study abroad students get acclimated with the JFRC and the surrounding areas. In addition to getting accustomed to the university and the city, orientation enabled us to cultivate strong friendships with one another. Another way that we were able to achieve such a connection to Italy, Loyola, and to each other, was through travel. I believe it was such an opportune way to end orientation with a school-wide trip to the beautiful region of Umbria.
Umbria is a region in Central Italy that is known for having picturesque landscapes, historic cities and a fascinating culture. What was so amazing about Umbria was that it felt like “undiscovered” territory in comparison to the “tourist meccas” of Florence, Rome, and Venice. Throughout our weekend in Umbria we visited the cities of Deruta, Perugia, Spoleto, Bevagna, and Spello. During our stay we sampled local delicacies over leisurely meals and learned more about the Umbrian culture through the varied skills people practice there, such as pottery, candle making, paper making, and silk making. It was fascinating to watch the artisans demonstrating how they use their craft to create materials we use in our day-to-day lives. Using Spoleto as a base for our trip to Umbria was great as well, because we really had the opportunity to discover it in-depth. Walking through the streets, gazing past rolling hills, and examining local life was truly a unique experience. We were even fortunate enough to attend a local music festival that was occurring during one of our nights there.
When the trip came to a close we all felt happy to go back home, yet at the same time we were sad to leave behind the experiences and fun times we had in Umbria. As we made our way back towards the Eternal City, all I could think while staring out the window at the dramatic landscape was; when will I be able to return with this amazing group of people?