Name: Norene Drici
Major(s): Food Marketing Co-op
Abroad Program: Food Marketing Italy Study Tour
Course: International Food Mktg Study Tour - FMK 330
Highlight: Rolling up our pants and walking the flooded streets of Venice
Best Excursion: Visiting Acetaia Bellei
Favorite Dish: Gnocchi in Verona
Least Favorite Dish: I loved it all!
Next Destination: Algeria
Describe your most memorable experience while abroad.
During our tour, we had the pleasure of visiting Acetaia Bellei, a family owned balsamic vinegar factory in Modena, Italy. As soon as we arrived on the premisis, the smell of balsamic instantly pervaded our senses. Our host for the day was Mr. Bellei, who at the very young age of 88 years old, insisted on personally walking us through the entire factory. In addition, although Mr. Bellei only spoke Italian, his passion and fervor were not lost in translation. Mr. Bellei escorted us through the on-site packaging, manufacturing, and storage facilities. He shared with us his family’s history, as well as his expertise. As we prepared to depart, Mr. Bellei left us with a quote, stating “Senza i figli non vale niente” (Without children (students) it is worth nothing). All who were present were moved by the generosity and enthusiasm of Mr. Bellei, I don’t think any of us will ever forget him. The emotions we experienced reminded us why we are Food Marketers: it is our duty to find individuals such as Mr. Bellei and share their love and inspiration with the world.
What did you learn to love about the culture(s)?
My favorite part about Italian culture is the emphasis on people and relationships. Everyone we visited and met was genuinely interested in getting to know us. In addition, the food culture is very different. Italians consider dinner an opportunity to relax with friends and family. Therefore, dinner is never rushed, as waiters will not bring a check until one is requested. It was so refreshing!
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?
GO ABROAD! If you feel like a semester is too much time to be away, I strongly recommend going on a study tour. This trip was hands down the best experience of my college career. It opened me up to people and situations that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to enjoy. By forcing you out of your comfort zone, study tours allow you to not only get to know your academic material better, but yourself as well!