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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Explore Italy with CSU Pueblo in Summer 2025

“We attended Turin Opera’s closing night performance of Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly.’ We learned that while the opera premiered in Milan, it was in Turin where Puccini revised his work after it was initially poorly received. The Turin performances launched its enduring popularity.” (Photo and caption provided by David Volk)

A group of 15 Colorado State University Pueblo students traveled to Turin, Italy, for an organized short-term study abroad program in June 2023. The Education First (EF) program offered students the opportunity to travel abroad while earning college credit.

The inaugural “CSU Pueblo in Turin” trip last summer was a success and organizers are seeking travelers for the summer of 2025. 

David Volk, a director for the Center for Honors and Leadership and a professor of music at the university, traveled with the group of students alongside Chris Picicci, a professor of Italian. Both professors taught a course for the CSU Pueblo students at the University of Turin.

“The idea behind this trip was basically to live in Turin for a month, and we conducted CSU Pueblo classes for students. We had daily excursions most days in the city because there are a lot of museums and a lot of things to see right in Turin. On the weekends, we would have excursions to other places,” said Volk.

This trip was Volk’s first time teaching a class abroad, adding to his traveling experiences with CSU Pueblo and other institutions.

“Students enjoyed their time in Italy and appreciated the beauty of Italy’s urban and rural landscapes, savored the country’s delicious foods, and interacted with its delightful people,” said Picicci.

“The royal palace of the Savoy family rests at the center of Turin, also near what became our favorite gelato shop.” (Photo and caption provided by David Volk)

Picicci worked with a tour guide who traveled with the group to help the students navigate the language and culture. According to Volk, he was glad Picicci was there to help students understand the train system, which the students used to travel to places such as Venice or Rome on a free weekend. There was a train station nearby where the students and professors stayed, which was in a private dormitory.

“The University of Turin does not have a campus like CSU Pueblo. It is in scattered buildings around the city. The Italian system dormitories are more private and not necessarily provided by the university, so this was a private dormitory facility, I would say. There was a classroom within the facility, and we had kitchenette facilities in each apartment. They were quite nice,” Volk explained.

The CSU Pueblo students were sharing the dormitory with other students from the University of Turin, which, according to Volk, included many students worldwide. He believes that the CSU Pueblo students enjoyed meeting the international students and building friendships.

Volk taught a music appreciation course, and Picicci taught an Italian course. Three social work students attended the trip and collaborated with their department to create an independent study course to receive credit for their major.

“Our tour guide worked with us, and those students had a day with a social service agency there in Turin and got to learn how social services are delivered in Italy. They had follow-up sessions with their department later in the summer when they got back and sort of debriefed on that and shared all the materials that they had gathered that day,” said Volk. 

“It was neat that they got to have a day to go explore and learn how social services work in that country. I really appreciated our social work department designing that opportunity for them and letting them get credit while they were there for that.”

Volk hopes students will attend in 2025 and that students of different majors beyond music or Italian can coordinate with their department an independent study course or an experiential course so there could also be a way to earn university credit.

“Hopefully, we could connect them to whatever organization in the city that would be relevant to their discipline. EF and our tour guide were fully prepared to help coordinate that in Turin, which was great,” said Volk.

The students were able to take a weekend excursion to Milan. There, they saw the La Scala opera house, where one of the composer Puccini’s most famous operas, “Madama Butterfly,” first premiered and found success. The students learned about the history of the opera throughout the course and then were able to watch the opera in Turin. 

CSU Pueblo in Turin is one of the many study-abroad options offered through the university. The Center: Student Support and Advocacy office is in the Occhiato Student Center, room 104. Students can learn more about study abroad and away programs in this office. The list of exchange destinations includes Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, Germany, France and the Czech Republic. Additional study-away opportunities are offered through the National Student Exchange (NSE).


“A weekend excursion to Lake Orta in the northern lake country of Italy. These storefronts face the lake.” (Photo and caption provided by David Volk)

“Even just going around the United States, you know we are not a monolithic culture. I mean, so much of America is in a certain sense, but you can go to different regions of this country, and geographically, it looks very different. Even culturally, there are some real distinctions as you go from region to region. But to go out of the country, those cultural distinctions are even more stark, and I think experiencing that is important because you don’t really understand your own culture fully, I think, until you can contrast it with another,” said Volk.

Volk said that students can expect to understand that there are a lot of similarities among different cultures as well. However, experiencing the age in European countries such as Italy is an entirely different experience. Historic places in Pueblo may date back to the 1800s, but The Palatine Gate in Turin, for example, is one of the world’s “best-preserved 1st-century BC Roman gateways” that students were able to see.

Volk reflected on his time as a college student majoring in music theory. He had to take a German course for his major and remembers seeing flyers for opportunities to study abroad there. Still, because he felt he was an out-of-state student paying out-of-state tuition already, he felt it was financially impossible to be a part of such an experience.

“These aren’t free experiences. There is a cost, but if you want to do it, come have an honest conversation, and let’s talk about how financial aid can be applied. Let’s talk about very real scholarships that exist and maybe even explore some other options for how you might get the finances together. The nice thing about this trip for 2025 is there’s a full year or more ahead in terms of how you might strategize to get the finances together. At the same time, there’s other support, and I look back and wish somebody had explained that to me because I think I shut my brain down to an experience that probably was possible if I only had enough confidence to ask and find out how does it work to do this,” Volk said.

“A chapel built by the Savoy family rests atop a hill overlooking Turin.” (Photo and caption provided by David Volk)

On the last night in Turin, Volk recalled the students passing on the bus ride home to their apartment in the dormitory, and rather many of them wanted to walk back after stopping by places they knew from their time in the city. He compared this to their first night in Turin, which was “wide-eyed, deer in a headlight,” sort of unawareness, to the students knowing their way around at the end. 

Volk thought it was amazing to see the growth of confidence and independence from the students, how everyone developed an understanding of the town, and how special Turin became to them after living there for four weeks.

After returning home, the students who attended the study abroad program made a poster presentation that hangs proudly in the Center for Honors in Leadership for all to see. The office is in the Library and Academic Resources Center (LARC), room 258. This office is also where Volk’s office is located and can answer any questions students might have about the Turin 2025 trip.

When asked what advice she would give students about traveling to Torino, a student who attended Turin 2023, Shaylan Hutchinson, wrote in the exit survey: “Take the trip. I would do this trip again in a heartbeat if given the chance. This is the perfect way to experience the world and gain more knowledge while studying. The trip gave me so many new friendships and memories that I will forever be grateful for. So, take the opportunity and go to Italy. You will not regret it.”

While “CSU Pueblo in Turin” is not set to happen again until the summer of 2025, Volk wants students to learn more about the experience and not let the fear of “doing the impossible” get in the way of students taking the chance to have the experience of a lifetime.

“It’s not a barrier that can’t be surmounted. Come have a conversation, and let’s explore together how that might be possible. Let’s get you to Turin in 2025,” said Volk.

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