Our approach to education abroad is to make Italy your laboratory and classroom. Students enthusiastically say that participating in a Gustolab International program is more than study abroad. It is an unparalleled experience. One of the best decisions they ever made. Not just academically, but personally. Participating in daily Italian life, visiting various neighborhoods, shops, restaurants, and markets, immerses them in a unique environment of constant investigation and discovery. Courses are richly supplemented by field work, special projects, workshops, excursions, and activities. They share that the process of stepping outside of the familiar “comfort zone” of home, adapting to a new international context, allows them to gain valuable skill sets. It is a time of growth, broadening perspectives, and building future professional opportunities. Beyond examining the role of food in the culture at large, while in Rome, they also find themselves evaluating individual choices in regards to how the quality of food reflects on their quality of life. We strive to give students everything: guidance, structure, support, knowledge, and fun. Below, you can learn more about our approach to education abroad.
Place-based experiential learning
During your time abroad, you will learn about cultural particulars and nuances through the study of daily habits to visiting historic sites and buildings to walking old neighborhoods and comparing their layout, functions, and aesthetics with newer ones, to connecting with people working in the food & sustainability industries. In all cases, we encourage students to engage actively with such opportunities and to turn them into moments of discovery – exploring the patterns of local life in a second culture. These kinds of observations are essential to nearly all coursework at GLi and often become the basis of fieldwork carried out in restaurants, markets, factories, farms, and other settings. Gustolab International also keeps students informed of special activities occurring in Rome and elsewhere in Italy and encourages participation. Be sure to bring good walking shoes and a notepad, you will need them.
According to the Association for Experiential education, Experiential education is Challenge and Experience followed by Reflection leading to Learning and Growth. Some of the principles of experiential education practice include:
- Throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
- Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully, and/or physically. This involvement produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
- The results of the learning are personal and form the basis for future experience and learning.
- Relationships are developed and nurtured: learner to self, learner to others, and learner to the world at large.
Interdisciplinary & co-curricular project-based learning
Courses are designed to promote interdisciplinary discussion and learning. Co-curricular practical projects are part of course outcomes. These include projects like the production of a short documentary, cooking practicums, and group work with other students from Italian universities in Rome. Through these, we will help you learn how to apply your learning, solve real-world problems and improve your intercultural communication skills. Examples of projects that students have participated in, through our partnership with our network partners include:
- Cerealia Festival: Students in the summer “Nutrition and Culture” course participated in the Cerealia festival, conducting research and surveys on lifestyle and the consumption of grains in Italy and abroad. Students in the GLi “Food Media, Communication and Trends” course worked as video reporters, filming and interviewing participants. They produced two final products: a commercial that the festival still uses worldwide today to showcase their event and a nine-minute short documentary that shows the role of Cerealia and the “sagra” festival at large as a means to promote and preserve traditions.
- Food Waste Hackathon: Recently, students had the opportunity to participate in the Hack Waste Roma event, a speed hackathon for innovative ideas. The goal was to find creative solutions to limit waste and use food surplus.
- SDGs for all students: We launched this initiative in May 2018 to foster dialogue among students, academics, educators, and researchers on the importance of learning about, and acting towards sustainability.
By connecting you to organizations, professionals, students, and local inhabitants of micro-communities, we will give you the tools to delve into and deepen your understanding of Italian culture and society. You will learn to go beyond the tourist bubble. You will learn how to connect with and become an active resident in your new temporary home.
Our approach to community engagement also includes providing you with service learning and community service opportunities. These are great ways for students to meet new people, immerse themselves in the local culture and contribute to the local economy as well as make a difference in the lives of people.
Recent service-learning activities include:
- An inclusion, social integration & autonomy focused project in Rome
- A sustainability focused project at Parco degli Acquedotti with Retake Roma.
In the past, students have done community service at:
- La casa di Kim: KIM association hosts sick children who cannot receive medical treatments in their native countries. Usually, one of their parents is hosted with them and stays for the whole duration of treatment.
- Community of Sant’Egidio: Soup kitchen and walking dinners
- Orme in Rome: The association organizes food services where they prepare and make food available for homeless people.
Language learning & cultural immersion
Gustolab International strives to immerse students in Italian culture by informing and creating opportunities around customs, festivals and activities in Rome or elsewhere in Italy. We also organize activities with local Italian students to give students the chance to interact with peers from nearby Italian universities.
GLi students take Italian classes through our partner Scuola Leonardo da Vinci.