Alison Trimble

Major: Dietetics
Class: Sophomore
Timeframe: Spring 2024
Type of Experience: Study abroad

Overall Experience

This was an unforgettable international experience! Our study abroad journey began in Thessaloniki, Greece, where we stayed at Perrotis College, exploring dairy processing, the Mediterranean diet, Greek spoon sweets, vineyards, and more. After five days in Greece, we traveled to Italy, visiting Rome, Tuscania, and Florence. There, we discovered historic sites, an oil mill, farmers' markets, gelato shops, and cooking classes.

Learning experience

The most valuable learning experience for me was discovering the farm-to-table culture in Greece and Italy, witnessing firsthand how food is cherished, not wasted, and fresh. One example that stands out to me was lunch at Bottiglieria in Bolsena, where ingredients were sourced locally and homemade - in contrast to the processed foods in American supermarkets. This experience deepened my appreciation for the connection between food and culture and the importance of simplicity and wholesomeness in our diets.

Memorable experience

One of the most memorable moments of my study abroad experience was attending cooking classes at 'Cucina Lorenzo de' Medici' in Florence, making Italian cuisine. Over three days, we dived into the art of Italian cooking with skilled chefs. With each dish we prepared, the chef discussed its cultural significance and why he chose it. Among the many dishes we made, my personal favorite was 'spaghetti alla gricia.' I liked it so much that I recreated it in my kitchen back home. Those cooking classes in Florence taught me that food is not just for nourishment; it's a connection to culture and tradition.

What did you not expect?

One unexpected surprise was the emphasis on the social significance of dining in Greece and Italy. Coming from a background where meals are rushed, experiencing the leisurely pace and slow dining in Greece and Italy was eye-opening. They do not believe in to-go cups or meals that last less than an hour. I now understand the importance of considering the social and cultural aspects of eating, not just the nutritional content. I've embraced the value of slowing down, savoring meals, and connecting with others.

What advice would you give?

Document your journey by journaling and taking pictures to preserve memories, but don't let constant photo-taking detract from immersing in the culture. Being fully present makes for a better experience! I would also challenge you to step outside your comfort zone by trying new foods common in that culture that you might never get the opportunity to try again.

How has this experience impacted your life?

This study abroad experience gave me a global perspective on food and nutrition. I had never been to Europe before this trip, and it gave me a great appreciation for the value of locally sourced ingredients and food preparation. As for my long-term career goals, it has enhanced my ability to advocate for healthier, more sustainable dietary habits.

How did you learn about this experience?

I've always had an interest in study abroad. When I met with my advisor for the first time, I mentioned studying abroad, and together, we worked it into my schedule, ensuring it would fit into my academic plan. I looked through the study abroad website and attended study abroad fairs, which allowed me to explore different programs and possibilities.

International Connections