How I Discovered My Passion for Italian

Jacob DeCarli ’22, Managing Editor

Before my first year of college, I never thought that I would eventually major in a foreign language. Now, in the middle of my sophomore year, I am a double major in Italian Studies and International Studies. How did this happen? Well, my interest in the Italian language in combination with support from professors and active involvement in the Italian club led me to an eventual path towards obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in the famous European language. 

I decided to sign up for Italian 101 the summer before my first year because of my Italian roots. Most of my great-great grandparents immigrated from Italy to the United States at the turn of the 20 Century. My one set of grandparents are decently conversational in Italian, but neither my parents nor my sister and I learned the language. I was eager to pursue this opportunity since my high school only offered Spanish, French and Latin. At the time, I knew that Dickinson students were required to take three semesters of a language to graduate, so I mentally prepared myself to overcome a challenging year and a half of learning a new language. 

By fall pause of my first-year, Italian became my favorite class, and my professor recognized my interest and dedication towards the language. He emailed me one day asking if I was thinking about minoring in the language. At the time, I did not think I wanted to minor in Italian because it was only my sixth week of the class. 

During winter break of my first year, I started to research various majors. I originally intended on majoring in political science, but the international studies major drew in my attention with its interdisciplinary focus. I also discovered that international studies majors had to complete two semesters of the language beyond the intermediate level, and this persuaded me to pursue international studies. My second semester Italian professor (same as the first semester) suggested for me to minor in Italian since I was already completing the international studies agree and that I seemed invested in the language. So, by February of my first year I was set on pursuing Italian as a minor. 

The second semester of Italian introduced new verb-tenses that were challenging, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning these grammar rules. I loved learning new things in the class every day, and I started to understand the language the more I studied. By this point, I started looking into study abroad options. A professor advised me to research the Bologna, Italy program where many political science and international studies study. I realized that my Italian conversational skills would probably improve by my junior year, and this prompted my interest in the program.

By the end of my first year of college, Italian continued to be my favorite class at Dickinson. After conversations with my parents and friends, I decided to consider majoring in Italian Studies because of my passion for the language and culture of Italy. Over the summer, I interned for an Italian American publication where I wrote articles about Italian culture and politics. This internship heightened my excitement for pursing Italian Studies as a major.

The story finishes in September of my sophomore year. I finally declared my double major in international studies and Italian studies. Thanks to the support from my professors, I am now pursuing my passion.