I did it. I went half-way across the world and back.
I just got home from an amazing semester in Siena, Italy, where I spent three months studying the “Business and Economics of Italian Food and Wine.” Now I know what you’re thinking, it sounds like I just spent the semester on vacation, right? Wrong.
Ok, so not entirely wrong. All of the awe-inspiring and surreal experiences sure made it feel like a vacation, but I was still taking classes and learning a lot — both inside and outside of the classroom. Before I dive into that, I want to give a shout-out to the place that became my home; if you are ever in Italy, you do not want to miss out on a visit Siena. It is a city with culture so rich and wonderful, and it is like a family both welcoming and kind.
So here are some sustainability-focused habits that stood out to me during my time abroad:
- Groceries – It is the status quo to shop with reusable bags; plastic bags cost extra. And when it comes to stocking up the fridge, most Italians buy just enough for the next day or so, and then return to the market to buy more once that food is gone. This ensures fresh food on the plate, and reduced food waste at the consumer level.
- Heating and Lighting – Gas is expensive in Italy, and in many parts of Europe. Our apartment used gas for the heating and lighting, and we were instructed to never leave the lights on and to keep the heat on low. Not only does this cut costs for the consumers, but it means they are also using less energy (and that layers of clothing are key!).
- Straws – Like many other single-use plastic items around Italy, straws are not a given. You either have to ask for one, or drink without them (I know, the horror).
- Recycling – In Siena, and other parts of Italy, inhabitants are required to recycle! (Hey @America, wazzup)
- Public Transportation – If I lived in Europe, chances are I wouldn’t own a car. Who needs one when there is fairly cheap and reliable transportation to anywhere and everywhere.
Those are just a few among the things I’ve learned about “green” life while abroad. I’m looking forward to sharing more of my experiences with you over the next few weeks!
Written by Teddi Shapiro, Class of 2019