Meet Kala

Ciao, ragazzi!

My name is Kala (Kayla without the “y”) and I’m the 2017-2018 Graduate Resident Director here at OU in Arezzo!

“Woah, weird, what’s that mean?”

Basically, I’m a graduate student and I get to work at OUA. I’m studying Adult and Higher Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs and I’m taking all of my classes online. But that’s only part of what I do with my day! The rest of my time is spent with the OUA staff and students (and trying to make Italian friends). I help plan events, do normal paperwork things, advise our Student Activities Council, and help students with whatever may come at them.

As you might imagine, that can be anything from a broken alarm clock to homesickness to train travel and literally anything in between. And between you and me…

I love it.

That’s the job. Helping students with whatever I can is what I signed up for when I chose to go into Student Affairs.

Living in Arezzo, at the Rooney Family Center, is so different than any of my previous experiences abroad (and I am so thankful for it). When I was an undergraduate (OU class of 2013, B.A. in English with a minor in AFAM), I studied abroad in Ghana. I lived in a hostel for six and a half weeks and had the time of my life. Living and learning abroad, even for that short period, taught me so much about myself and the world around me. There’s something so intensely common in our humanity, despite how different we are. It was empowering.

So empowering, in fact, that I decided to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer after I graduated. I ended up living in a little town called Senaki in the Republic of Georgia. I spent three months in training in Georgia before moving to Senaki. During that time I learned Georgian (kind of) and tried to get my bearings in a totally foreign culture. The place I lived in Senaki, Garadoki, is a settlement for Internally Displaced People, or IDPs, from a war a little over 20 years ago.

You can probably imagine that going from developing countries to living in Italy was a shock. And indeed, it definitely was. Despite all of that, I’ve been reaffirmed in the idea that there is something common in our humanity. And even though sometimes living in paradise comes with its own challenges, I’m thankful to be here.

-Kala Sellers

Dreaming of Cortona

Italy reminds me so much of home. I spent my childhood playing hopscotch in the desert air with the Sangre de Cristo mountains, a comforting fixed point seen from my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The walls of the buildings here, buildings that are older than the formal establishment of the United States, smell like adobe, and the tuscan cypress trees make me think of skinny piñon trees. But the views here are unlike home, in so many marvelous ways. On our day trip to Cortona, after getting out of a taxi ride that climbed the hillside, we spent the first ten minutes staring in awe at the landscape. The Chiana Valley seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see, and even under a dripping sky, lake Trasimeno glistened from sunlight that broke through the clouds. It was the third time during this study abroad experience that I felt my breath stolen by the landscape. The first was at Pompeii, under Mt.Vesuvius, and the second was at Capri. But this was beautiful in a different way.  As we walked through the tiny streets of Cortona, our small group was enraptured by the picturesque views that could be found down every winding alleyway. The sprinkling rain set a comfortable temperature and the little shops glowed a bit brighter compared to the deep blue clouds above them. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being taken away by how each town is layered with history, architecture and art. We were lucky enough to be in Cortona during Cortona on the Move, an international photography festival, and were able to see a handful of photography exhibits, in addition to some incredible art galleries. Cortona is also home to two fantastic museums: an Etruscan museum and the Diocesan Museum, just outside of a Roman Catholic cathedral. Some of us – not including myself – braved the steep hills of Cortona to visit the Basilica di Santa Margherita and were able to see an even more fantastic view of the Tuscan countryside. Instead, I opted to sketch in the Piazza della Repubblica, while the younger Landi played soccer and local musicians filled the square with guitar strums. Moments like this, here in Italy, are comforting since they remind me of home, but they add to my life experiences in ways that home never could.

Ciao for now!

-Lauren Romero

OUA is OUT OF HERE!

OUA’s second weekend of September was full of good food, great views, and better company

Quick Itinerary – via train, bus, boat and foot:

1. Friday- Rooney Center departure at 7:00 am

2. Friday- Pompei from about 13:00-17:00 pm

3. Friday evening – Sorrento

4. Saturday all day – Island of Capri

5. Saturday night – Sorrento

6. Sunday of travel and arrival in Arezzo around 19:00 pm

23 students and 7 adults made up a 30-person tour of the Pompeii ruins Friday afternoon. I can speak for everyone by saying that it was everything and more. You could feel the history and see the power of the active Vesuvius volcano.

Next – Sorrento! Sorrento is a beautiful coastal city with great seafood and linen. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was a family (group) dinner at Ristorante Zi’Ntonio where we had a lovely meal in the private little cove downstairs of the restaurant.

Saturday was dedicated to the breath-taking Island of Capri. We started our day with a 2-hour private boat ride around the island to see green and blue water caves and swim in the Mediterranean Sea – I think a couple of us checked that off our bucket list! After the boat ride, we had a free afternoon in Capri. Myself and over half of the group went “Ana” (the Greek word for “up”) to Ana Capri, or the more elevated city on the island. We had an exceptional lunch of sea food dishes and fresh pizza followed by window shopping and a chair lift ride to the top of Mount Solaro for a view in the clouds.

Saturday evening was spent getting to know Sorrento a little better and enjoying its nightlife before a Sunday of traveling back to OUA home base.

I recommend all three of our destinations to fellow travelers who want a little history, fresh food, shopping and salty water.

This weekend allowed me to get to know everyone better and appreciate how different we all are. We can’t lose with a study abroad group like this one!

Ciao!!

-Caroline Reynolds

OUA Fall 2017