I’m not going to pretend that simply visiting Florence for a limited time would provide the cultural engagement that is so crucial to my personal growth as I explore this world. We all know the opposite is true: in order to experience such cultural depth, one must truly live in said culture. Through CEA, the opportunities are plentiful, and hard to pass up. From cooking courses to paper workshops, studying abroad with CEA means limitless occasions for cultural engagement.
I was fortunate enough to take part in the basket weaving activity put on by the CEA Florence staff. And no, we were not underwater. This particular venture stands apart from others for one underlying reason: we traveled far from the hustle and bustle of the city center until we reached an authentic Tuscan farmhouse. The awe of such a change in scenery was enough to place this adventure at the top of my list, but pleasant surprises waited around every corner.
|Exactly what you'd expect from a Tuscan farmhouse full of character, chipped walls and all.|
We were welcomed with open arms by the most charming Italian locals, none of whom spoke a word of English. This was an exciting challenge that lent itself to a profoundly engaging cultural experience. We sat outside in a large circle, alternating student and artisan, as kittens and chickens scurried past our feet.
|Learning from the best: CEA students and Italian artisans work around language barriers to create something amazing.|
We spent our afternoon laughing and enjoying our time with those of which we shared little in common. They rambled on with their instructions in Italian as we giggled and nodded along, pretending to even slightly understand what we were being told.
|Taking a moment to appreciate the experience. Just starting to build my basket.|
Basket weaving in Tuscany, as odd as it may sound, was the most rewarding and unique experience I’ve had since I arrived in Florence. It’s indisputable that such an opportunity would be almost impossible to come by if I was merely visiting Italy.
|Obligatory photo with our new friends . . . and new baskets.|
Chandler S. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Florence, Italy. She is currently a junior studying Graphic Communications at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Chandler Stroh is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Florence, Italy, and is currently studying at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.