Ella Gordon

Major: Culinary Food Science
Class: Junior
Timeframe: Spring 2024
Type of Experience: Study abroad
Program: For the Love of Food and Italy
Destination: Italy

Overall Experience

I had a great experience on the For the Love of Food, Greece, and Italy study abroad trip! I tried many new foods, saw historical sites, and did so much more. In Greece, we stayed at Perrotis College in Thessaloniki, ate many traditional foods, learned about the mediterranean diet, and had the opportunity to learn about how traditional foods in the area are produced. We also had the opportunity to take a cooking course. In Italy, we spent time in Rome, Tuscania, and Florence. We did a walking tour of Rome and visited many popular historical sites. In Tuscania, we had lunch at a local restaurant, where we tried many local food products. We explored the market in Florence and had three cooking courses led by chefs from the Lorenzo de' Medici Institut.

Learning experience

The most valuable learning experiences I had on this trip were the cooking courses we had in Florence and in Greece. In Greece, we had a cooking course at Mama's Taper, where we learned how to make really delicious food. We learned how to make spinach pies, stuffed grape leaves, and tzatziki. In Italy we had three cooking classes with chefs from the Lorenzo de' Medici Institut. We were taught step-by-step how to prepare each of the dishes. I thought these classes were very helpful and taught me so much about food and cooking and I will be able to apply the skills while I'm at Iowa State and in my career.

Memorable experience

The most memorable experience from this study abroad trip was our day in Tuscania. We toured an olive grove and oil mill where we learned how they produce olive oil and tried the products they produce. We then had lunch at Bottiglieria. They first brought a plate with cheese and bread that had a few different toppings. We then had a light pasta dish with a tomato sauce followed by a dessert. We then had a walking tour of the city of Bolsena where we saw some historical sites and learned about the history of the town. In Tuscania, we stopped by a gelateria and had the best gelato! I thought this day in Tuscania and Bolsena was memorable because of the delicious food, memorable moments, and the beautiful scenery.

What did you not expect?

Something that surprised me from this experience was learning about the mediterranean diet. In Greece, we learned about what the foods often included in the diet and how the mediterranean diet is also a lifestyle. I was surprised to learn that most people in Greece and Italy do not actually follow the diet. I wonder why the diet is not as popular today in this region and what aspects contribute to the foods eaten today in this region.

What advice would you give?

The advice I would have for future students who are interested in studying abroad is to apply and be open minded to new experiences. I would recommend applying even if you are only slightly interested because you never know who you could meet or what you could learn on a study abroad trip. Before going on this study abroad trip, there were aspects I was nervous about but everything worked out and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go!

How has this experience impacted your life?

This study abroad experience has impacted me positively in many ways. I am grateful for this experience personally because of the people I met during this trip. The people from Iowa State along with those who I met on the trip added so much to the experience. This trip has impacted my life overall because of the many new opportunities to learn about new things while abroad. Specifically, it was cool to learn about the differences in dining customs in Greece and Italy. This experience will impact my educational and long-term goals in many ways, I can use the information learned about the mediterranean diet and apply it to my courses and in my future career. From the time spent traveling to our destinations to learning about new cultures, I will take these experiences with me while I'm at Iowa State and into my career.

How did you learn about this experience?

I first learned about the international opportunity through my advisor Erica Beirman and through the Culinary Science club.

International Connections