Friday, May 18, 2018


We've learned a LOT about the Italian Higher Education system so far... We've met with administrators from the University of Macerata (UNIMC), which is the university hosting us, and on Wednesday we journeyed to Florence. WOW. So much to see and do... we barely touched the surface, yet I walked over 26,000 steps.

We received a fabulous tour of one building at the University of Florence. Italian Universities are not structured like American Universities - their buildings are spread throughout the towns, not on a single campus. At the University of Florence we met with a number of people and had several presentations relating to their enrollment, structure, strengths, and even some of the challenges they face. One of the presentations was by the Center for Generative Communication:

We felt so welcomed and they really did a fabulous job... plus coffee and cookies. It's true that (almost) every meeting you go to has food... I'm not complaining!

After the tour wrapped up we all went exploring. I took SO MANY pictures in Florence... I'll share a few at the end of the post. The history in Florence... the buildings, the art, the innovation... It's indescribable.

We stopped for lunch and had the most amazing lasagna (with pesto and pomodoro sauce) and bruschetta... the tomatoes here are beyond compare. Also pictured is a salad that one of my group members ordered... so colorful!

After lunch, we visited the Gallerie degli Uffizi. There must be hundreds of museums in Florence, but the Uffizi is one of the largest ones.

We also visited the Ponte Vecchio bridge. They call it the "Gold Bridge" because it is filled with jewelry shops. I've never seen anything like it!

It was an amazing day.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

We made it!

The last few days have been a blur. I woke up at 3:45am on Saturday (after 4 hours of sleep). I’m not sure how many hours of waiting in airports and flight-time we had. Rome customs went fairly quickly and then it was a 3+ drive through the gorgeous Italian countryside and over the Italian Alps.

First impressions? From what I have seen so far, Italy is an remarkable mixture of ancient and modern. The airport is super modern…

During the drive to Macerata we saw ancient homes, newer homes, solar panels, sheep, olive trees, vineyards, roundabouts, extremely narrow brick roads… there’s so much to see and absorb.

When we arrived in Macerata yesterday afternoon we had enough time to unpack and take a deep breath before our on-site orientation. We then spent several hours on a walking tour of Macerata and a delicious dinner. I had penne with basil pesto. Yum!

Afterwards we went for gelato… now I know what the big deal is! It’s super creamy and the chocolate was very strong, but amazing. You can get it in a cone or in a cup and it’s thicker than American ice cream. They also encourage you to get 2 or more flavors. I had chocolate and zuppa inglese (similar to trifle – creamy with bits of red sponge cake and chocolate). I apologize for the blurriness of the photo. I could blame it on the darkness of the room (which is true), but it also probably had something to do with being up for over 48 hours and not being able to see straight!

After a glorious night’s sleep, I started the day with breakfast at the hotel. Of course I had to try a cappuccino! I need to look up synonyms for delicious. It was a lighter flavor than the espresso I have had in the U. S., but really smooth and enjoyable.

After breakfast we met with Prof.ssa Nicolini from the University of Macerata (UNIMC). She’s a lovely, tiny, Italian lady (see picture below – in front of me ) who works at UNIMC.

We (the students) all shared our areas of interest/dissertation topics and Prof.ssa Nicolini described the Italian Higher Education system, which really is very different from the U. S. system. One example she provided: faculty at Italian universities compete for advancement opportunities with faculty from around the country. In the United States, faculty progress up the ranks through a series of steps including professional development plans and reports, service to community, research and publication, etc. In Italy, there are a limited number of full faculty positions available at each university and faculty are often required to move to another university in order to become a full professor.

Lunch involved pizza by the slice – it’s actually a small, rectangular/square pizza that they fold in half. I had an artichoke pizza… no sauce. There was a tiny bit of cheese, some artichoke, and the rest was bread/crust. No picture, sorry… I was actually on the go for that meal.

We wrapped up the day with an intensive, 5-hour Italian language course. I took a lot of notes, which is a really good thing. At some point my brain hit overload and I wasn’t absorbing much. I’ll check my notes tomorrow! We did have a short outing to order coffee and after the class we all went out to dinner with the instructor – who had us test out our new Italian phrases.

I had a cipolla e rosmarino pizza – with rosemary and onions – again, no sauce. We also shared some carciofi fritti e maionese di agrumi – fried artichoke with a mayonaise sauce and some assorted bread items. Roasted potatoes with rosemary were also on the menu – patate al forno – I will definitely be getting those again. There’s something about roasted vegetables… We finished off the meal with dessert e frutta. I had strawberries (fresh and sweet) with creme gelato and caramel sauce… to die for!

I’ll post more pictures of the town next time – plus we have a trip to Florence on Wednesday!

Time for bed… 12:51am… buono notte!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Up up and away...

The first leg of the trip and a done. Of course, international travel is like a centipede… many legs or maybe a bunny – hopping to and fro? Either way, I have landed in Minneapolis!

I’ll hang out here for a bit before heading to Detroit and then to Rome!

I’ve been exploring options of things to do while in Macerata, Florence, Urbino, and Senigallia. I purchased my ticket for the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence… The rest is TBD.

Stay tuned for the upcoming adventure!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Italian Higher Education

The course associated with this study abroad opportunity is: Critical Issues in Italian Higher Education. The online portion of the course started a last month and one of the assignments involved reading an article about the Italian Higher Education system. I work in a higher education institution and I was surprised by the significant differences between Italian and American higher education. I work at a relatively small institution, in a P-12 education preparation program. My department is very focused on nurturing and supporting students and helping them reach their fullest potential. Our instructors get to know our students and build relationships over their time here.

In Italy, however, it appears college students have very little interaction with the campus community, including the faculty. The courses are largely lecture-based. While the article we read addressed Italian Higher Education as a whole, I am curious about their teacher preparation programs. I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to learn more once I’m on the ground in Italy.

We also read a book this week about being a mindful and conscientious traveler. It was a great reminder to slow down and enjoy where we are, to soak in as much as we can, and to think about how we can contribute to the communities we visit (not just what we can get out of the experience).

In a little over 3 weeks I will be in Italy!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Preparations Cont.

The online part of the class has begun and I have started collecting items in one place. I still have a LOT to do before we leave, but it will all be worth it!

This trip and the corresponding course will provide all of the following:
  • An opportunity to learn about Italian Higher Education
  • A 2 week immersion in Italian culture
  • The final elective course for my doctoral program
  • Time to write and research for my dissertation
  • An opportunity to make connections with people who are doing similar research
  • A trip to Italy, which is a dream come true!
I’ll be updating my progress and tracking my time in Italy using this blog.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


And the last elective is... a trip to Italy!

In less than a month I found out about the opportunity, applied, and was accepted. I even received a very generous scholarship from the Italian Cultural Center in Minneapolis.

I've started collecting items in one place and the online portion of the course has begun. I still have a LOT to do before we leave, but I wanted to dust off my old blog in preparation for the trip. 

7 weeks and counting...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A few steps closer...

I'm finished with the face-to-face portion of my doctoral program. I'm also done with 4 out of the 5 elective courses. I plan on taking the last elective next spring or summer.

I'm working on my dissertation... I was planning on doing something related to Acceptable Use Policies, but I changed my mind. 

New topic: something to do with gamification - serious games - game-based learning... 

They say when you have completed the coursework you are 50% done...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

First Class Done

I finished my first class a few weeks ago and I'm 1/3 of the way through my second class.


With the next three years broken up into 2-3 week chunks - time is REALLY going to fly!

So far it's been manageable, but I keep taking on more and more...

NO is only two letters, but sometimes they're hard to say.

I'm working full-time and a little extra time is spent with a new Success Coach program where I work with Freshmen.

I'm a full-time student (6 credits per semester).

I'm on the board of directors for the local playhouse.

Next spring I'll be teaching an online course.

And then there's sleep and friends and dogs and life outside of work and school.

At least I'm not bored :)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Dr. E ?

Could be me... hopefully.

I'm sitting in the classroom where I will have my first doctoral course. Over the next 3-4 years I will be working towards a doctorate in Educational Administration and Leadership (Ed.D.).

I'm not alone.

There are 15 people in my cohort, two of which are also my coworkers. The trip from home to here is 3 hours, but we are able to carpool. This gives us time to talk about our assignments, our worries, and our expectations. We will be side-by-side-by-side on this journey, supporting each other. We are very fortunate.

One of the perks of working for a University is that I can go to school for free. One of the perks of my union is that I can get a doctorate - for free.

I'm starting my third year in my job and I have been in my house for a full year... and it's not going to get any easier the older I get... So why not now?

Some adjectives to sum up where I'm at right now:

Excited. Worried. Anxious. Expectant. Intrigued. Nervous. Happy. Proud. Hopeful.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My iPhone killed my blog...

That must be it...

I spend too much time on my phone and it's hard to blog from the phone...

Maybe it's that I spend 8-9 hours a day on the computer and I don't want to spend evenings on the computer...

But that's contradictory - because the iPhone is a computer...

Now I'm just confused.