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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Italian vagabond

English professor Marci Selva traveled to Florence, Italy, as an instructor in spring 2010. Selva came back to City College with a unique perspective of Italian culture. Photo by || Kate Paloy|| [email protected]

Marci Selva found herself in the middle of Florence, Italy, trash everywhere, scents of cigarettes and tourists at every corner, an experience she would never forget.

City College English professor Marci Selva, 40, ignited her passion and profession to teach Northern California students in the city of Florence. There she experienced the delights of having the statue of David as a neighbor, the culture shock of Italian lifestyle and the wonders of a road less traveled.

In spring 2010, Selva packed her bags and embarked on a trip that was long overdue. Selva’s heritage is Italian, and she has an admiration for the famous landmarks and art of Italy.

“I come from an Italian-American background,” Selva says, “so I had to do this.”

During the study abroad program, Selva taught “Mythologies of the World” and toured most of Florence with the 96 or so students who entered the program.

“I think she’s really awesome,” says City College student Christine Mafnas, who attended the study abroad program. “She always made it a point that she wanted to help students.”

Every morning Selva encountered a new experience from vendors selling roasted chestnuts or walking down the street to greet Michelangelo’s statue of David.

Another piece of art that Selva says she admired was Botticellli’s “Birth of Venus,” which she visited a few times.

“Every day was different,” Selva says. “There was something new to see every day.”
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The culture shock that hit Selva was exciting yet intimidating at the same time. She says the differences between American culture and Italian culture were enormous.

“I quickly realized that there are no lines when you’re trying to order something,” says Selva, breaking out in laughter. “People will cut right in front you! You really have to stand your ground.”

Although taken by surprise, Selva adjusted quickly to the culture and atmosphere. The lifestyle of Italian culture was overwhelming, very fast-paced and scary, she says.

“When you go into another country, you have to figure out how to read signs and transportation methods,” Selva says. “I knew the language so it helped out a lot.”

The trip was not all business. Selva’s grandparents’ hometown was about three hours away by train from Florence. Her grandmother was born in Bergamo and her grandfather in Colico, both located between Lake Como and the Swiss border.

“My dad always wanted to go to visit the cities where his parents grew up,” Selva says. “It was really cool to scope it out for him.”

Once the program was over, Selva toured Italy for another month. She traveled all over, from the north side of Lake Como to Ravenna, where the famous Italian poet Dante’s tomb was housed, and finally to southern Italy.

Selva says she not only had one of the greatest experiences in her life, but also got to experience the wonders of her heritage and be the eyes of her father. For those four months of her life, Selva got to see the great pieces of art she admired and live among them.

“I would definitely go back,” Selva says. “In a heartbeat.”

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