Kat Reflects on Summer Mission Experience in Italy

Going to Italy for five weeks was quite the adventure. I went to Bologna, Italy which is home to the oldest university in the Western world. The University of Bologna began in 1088, and it is home to 100,000 students!

Although the food was super delicious, I had some struggles with the food, sleeping schedule and the Italians customs. I learned very quickly that some things that I did as a Texan did not work very well in Italy.

On this summer mission we went to the University of Bologna campus to meet and build friendships with students who study there. We tried to learn as much Italian as five weeks could give us, and fortunately my English and Spanish helped me pick up some conversations.

The students we met and got to build friendships with were very kind and welcoming. They showed us even more of the culture, some places where college student’s hung out, good coffee shops and shared their spiritual views.

The campus was so diverse that we got to meet people from Austria, Spain, Africa, Argentina, Portugal and many more countries. I love the fact that even though I was in Italy I got to experience other cultures as well.

We wanted to build a genuine friendship with the students so we spent quality time with them having meals together, doing things they liked and had great conversations.

On a daily basis we went to the university cafeteria or “mensa” in Italian, and just talked to the students. One key thing that we did was try to break down the language barrier. We always made sure our first question was, “Do you speak English?” in Italian so that we could carry a conversation. Most of the student would say they spoke very little English. Once we knew language would not be a barrier we were able to ask them about their major in school, favorite coffee places and international students would share about their experience in Bologna.

The people we met were so open and willing to share their spiritual beliefs it was very amazing getting to hear what they believed and why. I enjoyed being able to hear their questions of our beliefs and be able to also ask questions about theirs.

My summer in Italy ended by having reflection time. As a team we looked in depth and shared with another all that we had learned during our time there, all that the Lord had been teaching us, and we asked God to continue to show us how we can continue to share the good news back on our campus!

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