February: Claustrophobia

Alex Cherry Food & Sustainability Studies, Perugia, Italy


March 1, 2017

After all of the excitement of the first couple of weeks gave way to more regular routines, I began to feel somewhat… bored. My classes, while interesting, often overlap in material with what I’ve already learned at home. I was unfortunately sick for a couple of weeks, which prevented me from enjoying myself whenever I needed to leave the house. Also, there has been some minor friend group drama, which hasn’t really been bad exactly but has made hanging out with everyone as a group less exciting, and, frankly, less fun. Perugia is still so incredibly beautiful, but inundated with regular schoolwork and what seems like a never-ending stream of anxiety-inducing news from the US, I’m no longer as excited to go out and explore the city each day. I feel somewhat trapped in this walled town, limited by no access to a car and somewhat unreliable public transportation.

Luckily, I’ve been able to discuss these dissatisfactions with some friends from home who helped ease the feelings. I’m sure that when the weather gets warmer, and I can spend more time outside, and fresh local fruits and vegetables will be in season, I’ll get more excited about cooking and exploring again. But right now, it feels like everything is too comfortable, too easy. I like challenges! It feels like everyone wants me to spend most of my time doing nothing, relaxing, and studying. I want to be more active! And to have a project to be working on. I guess for now I’ll have to keep on waiting for the right moment, saving my energy before it’s time to act more.

But even though these feelings of inactivity have dominated my weekdays, these past few weeks have also brought me many incredible sights and experiences on school field trips and over weekend trips. From travels with friends to Rome and Florence, as well as a solo trip to Naples, I’ve been lucky enough to see many diverse and exciting parts of this beautiful country. And on school-organized field trips to a sustainable winery, an agriturismo cooking school, and a truffle hunting school, all in Umbria, we have had delicious home-cooked meals prepared by local families (or ourselves, in the case of the cooking school trip), and gotten to enjoy some relaxing time on farms in the countryside.

Anyway, here are some of the memories I’ve made and cool things I’ve seen over the last month:

 Freddy on a hike.My close friend and roommate Freddy on a hike we took Mount Subasio, the largest nearby mountain. Mount Subasio has an ancient religious history, being the site of Assisi, home of the important Medieval Catholic figure Saint Francis of Assisi. The mountain, in addition to being nearby and completely gorgeous, also has a monastery hidden in the woods a few kilometers from Assisi, and has attracted religious pilgrims (and more recently, also secular tourists like us) for nearly a thousand years.

 ReflectionMy friend Emily and I as we watched the reflection of a beautiful day in a beautiful restaurant window during a day trip to Assisi. In the background behind us is the Basilica of Saint Francis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautifully decorated and most famous Medieval cathedrals in Italy (and in this country, that’s really saying something).

 Puppies!Puppies! Each of the field trip locations we went to had a sweet farm dog or two. These wonderful pups, whose translated names mean “Spot” and “Apple” were extremely cute and friendly. The small one we decided to rename “Salsiccia”, the Italian word for sausage, because she resembled like an adorable little pork sausage.

PartyThere’s a good story to this one! In Florence, my roommate Freddy made friends with this thirty year old man who invited him to this party he and his friends were having in an art studio that night, which ended up being one of the best parties I’ve ever been to. The DJs were playing great disco and dance music on vinyl record players while a large group of middle-aged Florentine artists and their friends (some with kids!) drank a lot of wine and danced and laughed together. Freddy, our friend Helen (seen as a blurry blob in the left of the photo), and I went and danced and chatted for a few hours and had an amazing time!


During my stay in Naples, I visited the ruins of Pompeii the famous Ancient Roman city destroyed in AD 79 by the eruption of the nearby volcano Mount Vesuvius. Having studied Latin for five years in middle and high school, it was really exciting for me to actually see the homes where the Romans lived and to get a glimpse into the types of lives they may have led. This house, known for its small fountain, was exceptionally beautiful.