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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

Exploring Turin: Students’ Study Abroad Experiences

David Volk (bottom left in blue) stands with CSU Pueblo students during the “CSU Pueblo in Turin” study-abroad program in June 2023. Chaylen Richards and Lawrence Ceniza stand next to each other in the front row on the floor (Richards second from left and Ceniza third from left). Photo provided by Lawrence Ceniza.

Colorado State University Pueblo offered a short-term study-abroad program in Turin, Italy, in June 2023. The trip was led by David Volk, a director for the Center for Honors and Leadership and a professor of music, and Chris Picicci, a professor of Italian. 

The inaugural “CSU Pueblo In Turin” trip had 15 students attend alongside Volk and Picicci. An Italian tour guide, Marco, also met the group abroad and traveled with them for the entire four weeks they were there. 

Chaylen Richards and Lawrence Ceniza, two of the 15 students on the trip, shared their experiences with The Today. 

Richards is in the second semester of his sophomore year as a cannabis and biochemistry major in the natural products line. He discovered the study abroad opportunity through his Honors class, taught by Volk.

“He was pretty convincing on it, especially being someone with a music background, he really sold it,” Richards said. “Being someone who didn’t think they’d ever go out of the country, just not coming from that kind of financial background, for him to lay out all the routes and methods to help get us over there, I really can’t thank him enough.”

Ceniza graduated from CSU Pueblo in the spring of 2023 with a bachelor’s in music appreciation with an emphasis in vocals. However, he participated in the classes offered for the trip. Currently, he works at the university as the social media coordinator for the music department.

Ceniza applied for and received a scholarship from the Center for Honors and Leadership to help cover the cost of the study abroad program.

By signing up for the upper division music appreciation course and the Italian course taught by Volk and Piccici, Richards could apply for grants that would normally assist him with schooling at CSU Pueblo. He also took out a subsidized loan to fund the trip.

For both Richards and Ceniza, the “CSU Pueblo in Turin 2023” was their first study abroad experience and a visit to Italy. While Ceniza had traveled to Asia before, this was Richards’ first trip out of the country, and he mentioned getting his passport specifically for this trip. 

Ceniza also discovered the study abroad opportunity through Volk, who was his professor.

“I was just in my technology for music educators’ class, and he promoted it, and an hour later, I called my mom, and I was like, ‘I’m going to Italy,'” Ceniza said. “That was just the first thing that came to my mind.”

Sunflowers grow in the city of Turin. Photo provided by Lawrence Ceniza.

The students stayed in a dormitory-styled residence shared with students from the University of Turin and other international students, including individuals from the United Kingdom and Palestine. According to Ceniza, there was a “cave for college students” that housed pool tables and foosball tables for those to gather and play. 

The CSU Pueblo students roomed together, and there were kitchenette facilities in the building, along with a classroom where Volk and Picicci taught their classes during the day.

“Joe was a gentleman who also was a student at the university there, and he would work the front desk. He was perfect. He was our bit of information whenever we were leaving. He worked the nights, and since a lot of us wanted to experience that nightlife in Turin, he would let us know which places to go and not to go,” Richards recalled.

Outside of class, the CSU Pueblo students could visit numerous museums and places within Turin. On weekends, the group adventured to other cities, such as Milan. 

Richards was part of a small group of students who traveled to Rome during one of their free weekends.

“While in Rome, I got to see a Pride parade, and it was right next door to the Colosseum. Just the juxtaposition of seeing our modern world next to that ancient world, that memory in specific really sticks out to me. To see the liveliness and the festivities, the happiness going on, and right next door, it’s like there’s an amphitheater of death,” Richards said.

Ceniza said the group also traveled to Bra and Alba, two smaller towns outside of Turin, which, according to him, the picturesque reality of the Italian countryside was just as scenic as you would envision it. 

“That was my best time over there because we got to spend an afternoon at a wine-tasting restaurant. It was just us inside the building. With a little bit of liquid courage, we all sang and did Karaoke, and the owners of the restaurant gave us more wine. They were having so much fun with all our singing that they kept feeding us,” Ceniza said as being his favorite memory.

Both students emphasized the cultural immersion, cuisines, and architecture as highlights of their trip.

Richard said, “It is Italy, so obviously, the food. It was just the culture, the history. Here in America, you see something from the 1800s and are like, ‘Oh my gosh, the historic district.’ And then you go to Turin, they have the oldest-standing Roman gate,” 

“In Turin specifically, having just that history of Napoleonic France as well. Anywhere you turn and throw a rock, it was a day you could spend,” he said. 

Students eat a pastry with coffee for breakfast in Italy. Photo provided by Lawrence Ceniza.

Richards recalled seeing a well-preserved Roman living room in a house in Turin that had archaeological tapings in it to keep people from touching it. But right above that, there was a window, and an older woman was also living there in the house.

“It’s the thought of the modern world still going, and you can see antiquity right next to it,” Richards explained.

Both Cineza and Richards emphasized the profound impact of their experiences. This trip reminded Richards that he can travel and see the world. Even with the access to photos and videos we can see online of these places, according to Richards, it only does it justice once you’re standing there and seeing it with your own eyes.

Ceniza said, “This experience impacted me by giving me a new perspective on life outside of America. I’m Filipino, so seeing the different perspectives of Asian, American, and Italian cultures really came into focus. The people there are all about the culture, preserving that culture, and being very proud of who they are. Something about that and looking at how they live there, especially in the smaller towns that we could visit, was impactful because they were happy with themselves. They’re living their life.”

The CSU Pueblo in Turin study-abroad experience is set to happen again in the summer of 2025. Volk and Picicci are looking for new students to accompany them. 

“Do it, do it, do it. Please don’t hesitate. Talk to the professors. They will get you there, and I cannot stress enough how much it’ll change you,” Richards said.

Both Cineza and Richards encourage anyone to sign up for the opportunity. They have friends and classmates who attended the trip with them, still see each other often, and always reminisce on the memories made in Italy.

“Go. I know it can be pricey, but the experiences over there that you will have are just one-of-a-kind. You are outside of your comfort zone, outside of America, outside of the town that you are familiar with, and you have to really figure out this whole new lifestyle yourself and with your friends. I would say, take the leap. Do it, have fun, and live the best life that you can over there because you may never get this opportunity again,” Ceniza said.

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