By Samantha Pasciuto
Photo courtesy of FUA

One of the unique opportunities offered by FUA is to learn  course material in a variety of different ways. For Monica Falzo, an international student from Southern New Hampshire University located in Manchester, New Hampshire, she experienced this first hand when her Food, Culture, and Society in Italy class took their first field learning trip this past Saturday to Parma and Modena.

“I honestly have never experienced anything like that before” Falzo opened the interview by saying. “Sure, throughout grade school we would go on the occasional field trip, but I cannot recall a time where I have experienced my class material head on like that.” In their “Flavors of Italy” section of the curriculum, students are currently learning about various types of cheese, meats, and dressings that are popular in Italian culture. So what better way to absorb that material than to go and watch cheese be processed, see where prosciutto is produced, and taste the difference in aged balsamic vinegars?

Falzo’s class started their field learning trip in Parma, Italy where they watched the process of how Parmigiano Reggiano, one of the most nutritional and popular cheeses, is made. “I remember walking through the plant and watching the workers process and mold the cheese and thought, ‘So this is how it's done.’ As someone who is a visual learner, I felt I connected with the material more.”

For their second stop they made a trip about thirty minutes down the road to a Prosciutto di Parma factory to watch what goes into making the staple Italian cured ham. “Since I was new to prosciutto, I had a lot of questions. In class, we talked about the cured meat aging process and I was fascinated,” Falzo tells. She then emphasized how during the field learning activity her professor walked the group through the plant and provided in-depth information as a followup to the material covered in class..

Finally, the class made the final stop at a Balsamic Vinegar in Modena. Since balsamic vinegar is often associated to dressing dishes such as salads, Falzo and her classmates were surprised to learn about the different types of balsamic and the various uses it represents.

Aside from the general interest towards the daylong activity, one of Falzo’s most interesting highlights was that she found her professors and staff to be “incredibly knowledge about the subjects and excited to be learning more with us.” From her interview, it is obvious that Falzo and her classmates had an experience that opened their perspectives on learning new aspects of the Italian food culture.

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