Victoria Verde

Major: Dietetics
Class: Sophomore
Timeframe: Spring 2024
Type of Experience: Study abroad
Program: For the Love of Food and Italy
Destination: Italy

Overall Experience

This was such a great opportunity to learn about food and culture. To prepare us for our trip we attended a class during spring semester where we met the people we were traveling with. We started our trip in Thessaloniki, Greece. We spent five days learning from people at Perrotis College. We learned various things, from dairy and honey processing plants and the Mediterranean Diet. We then traveled to Italy, stopping first in Rome, where we learned about the market and got to visit beautiful landmarks, and tried traditional foods. After, we went to Tuscany, learned about olive oil processing/tastes, and then traveled to Florence. When there, we had some amazing cooking classes through Lorenzo de' Medici and met a dietitian.

Learning experience

During this experience, we got to try and learn how to cook and incorporate different ingredients in the foods we eat in everyday life. For example, we made an eggplant pasta sauce. This amazing opportunity that Lorenzo de' Medici provided us has helped me learn how the simplest ingredients can make a big difference. I can't wait to share all these amazing recipes with my family and friends!

Memorable experience

In Greece, most of our dinners were formatted as Greek family dinners. This means that everyone in the group sat at the table together and shared traditional Greek foods. This was one of the most memorable things about the trip for me because I was able to get to know my group better and also was able to try multiple foods.

What did you not expect?

The most surprising thing for me had to do with the Mediterranean diet. Before going to Greece and Italy, I knew from research that the diet was one of the healthiest, and I thought most people followed it. But to my surprise, people haven't followed the diet for 40 years! Now, they eat more processed foods and sweets. Fruit and vegetable consumption has decreased, and more red meats and wine are consumed. This has shown me how important first-hand experience is for learning.

What advice would you give?

My advice would be... don't be afraid to try something new. Before this experience, I was nervous because I didn't know anyone in my group and two weeks is a long time being away from home. I can say with certainty that I have made some of my favorite memories and some of my best friends through this process. Also, don't be scared to try new foods because it's better to say you didn't like it than to say you never tried it. I would 100% recommend looking into studying abroad!

How has this experience impacted your life?

This experience helped me in multiple ways, in both personal and educational/career goals. I have been able to learn so much about how nutrition impacts people all over the world, and hopefully, in the future, I will be able to apply what I learn into my classes.

How did you learn about this experience?

I first learned about this experience from my advisor when consulting her about my interest in traveling abroad, but I was unsure if it would work with my schedule. She told me this would be a great option to meet people in the major and learn more about nutrition in other countries.

International Connections