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Studying Abroad in Italy

Hi! My name is Carly and I am fortunate enough to be shadowing Kathy as she pursues her career as a dietitian. I have been given the opportunity to contribute to her blog and write about hot topics regarding nutrition in today’s ever-changing world!

A little bit about me ...

I am a junior studying Human Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. I love what I am learning and am deeply passionate about the science behind the foods we consume and the decisions regarding food we all make on a daily basis. Currently, I am spending the semester studying overseas in Florence, Italy! My time in Italy thus far has been absolutely amazing, succeeding all expectations of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Choosing Italy as my study abroad location was highly dependent on the classes offered at my new institution, Lorenzo de Medici University. I enrolled in Mediterranean cooking and a wine tasting class; almost sounds too good to be true to be receiving credit for these courses!

The Mediterranean cooking course has truly opened my eyes to the Italian lifestyle and overall eating habits. Here in Florence, following a Mediterranean diet is commonplace and is exemplified in every restaurant and establishment. The diet revolves around the ideas of consuming little to no red meat, replacing dark meat with fish, eggs, and white meats, cutting out most dairy besides greek yogurt and occasional cheese, and implementing healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. The restaurants in Florence reflect on these ideas by serving smaller dishes with plenty of options for all types of diets, cooking with olive oil rather than butter or alternative fats, and promoting a longer meal duration. Along with the types of foods that are consistent with this diet, the Mediterranean meal style involves extended meals to enhance better digestion and allow for time to enjoy the presence of company. As a part of my class, I have been given the great opportunity to learn hands-on cooking skills from one of the best chefs in Florence in the Mercato Centrale! Learning how to cook gnocchi, grilled sea bass, and tiramisu are just a few of the recipes I will always remember making in Italy.

Besides my great knowledge of Italian cuisine, I have gained a stronger sense of independence since being so far away from home. Immediately following my arrival in Florence, I was quite apprehensive of the months ahead of me; never in my life have I taken on such an adventure by myself. However, navigating through the city each day would allow me to learn through countless trial and error efforts. I am now confident in each of my explorations which includes traveling to new countries almost every week. So far I have traveled to 4 cities in Italy and 5 new countries and still have plenty more ahead of me!

Florence is truly becoming a piece of my heart and I found my niche 4,600 miles away from home. I am so fortunate to be on this incredible adventure and cannot wait to reflect upon those “4 months of my life that I lived in Italy”.

Ciao for now!

~ Carly

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