Morning Sun
  • Patrick's People - Italian Immersion

  • Many students don’t think of studying abroad, but Marilyn Brock would like to suggest that it is an option worthy  of consideration.

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  • Many students don’t think of studying abroad, but Marilyn Brock would like to suggest that it is an option worthy of consideration.
    The daughter of Brenda Brock and the late George Brock, she’s back home in Pittsburg after spending from May 12 to Aug. 9 in Italy.
    “I took a language immersion course in Italian at Scuola Leonardo da Vinci in Florence,” Brock said.
    Brock earned a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis in vocal performance in Pittsburg State University, and will pursue a master’s degree in musicology at the University of Denver. She felt that a good grounding in Italian would be helpful for her research.
    “I’m interested in late romantic Italian opera, especially Puccini, but I still have to discuss it with my thesis advisor,” Brock said.
    Her plan is to follow the master’s with a doctorate.
    “In musicology, you pretty much have to have a PhD to find a job,” she said. “I think I’d like to teach at the university level, as well as continue with my research.”
    Brock sang in several operas at PSU, and said she would like to continue performing.
    “I’d like to perform on the side, rather than have it the main focus of my career,” she said.
    She said that her stay in Italy was a really good experience.
    “I learned a lot academically,” Brock said. “By this time my Italian is pretty decent. Immersion, to be constantly using the skills you learn in the classroom, is helpful. It’s like music, if you just go to class and don’t practice, you won’t learn so quickly.”
    She added that spending a longer time in another country rather than just visiting for a week or two, allows a person to experience the country’s culture.
    There’s a lot to experience in Florence.
    “There’s just so much art and history everywhere you turn,” Brock said. “I had an apartment there, and I think apartment building was four or five hundred years old. Most of the buildings around it were built in the Renaissance.”
    She also liked the apartment’s location.
    “If I walked a little I could see the Arno River and the Tuscan Hills in the distance,” she said.
    Brock noted some differences between the Italian and American ways of life.
    “We think nothing of turning on the air conditioning when the temperature hits 80, or taking an elevator to the second floor,” she said. “In Italy, most buildings are not air conditioned, and elevators are rare. Italians also usually buy their bread from the baker and fresh fruit from stalls. I was amazed at how much of their food is so fresh.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Brock had time to travel to several other Italian cities and spent a few days in Rome before coming home.
    While abroad, she kept in touch with her mother through Skype, e-mail and texting, and was also able to make some preparations for her upcoming move to Denver.
    “I searched online for an apartment in Denver while I was in Italy,” Brock said. “I’d visit an apartment house web site, then I’d e-mail my mother with questions I had, and she’d call and ask them.”
    She said that she definitely recommends study abroad as an option because it is educational in so many ways.
    “When you spend a greater period of time in a foreign country, it broadens your experiences and can make you see things about yourself and the world in general that you didn’t think about before,” Brock said.

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