for BCSP consortium members and associated universities
Spring semester 2013 - N° 11
Take a glimpse into student apartments......
Student Mary Prokop: understanding art from a literature buff's perspective
Student Noelle Turtur: a foreign correspondent in the making
Student Events & Excursions: Rachel Hullett's museum tour
Alumni Notes

BCSP's Spring semester started on Monday, January 14, with 32 incoming students that joined the 25 students already in Bologna for the year. Courses offered in the BCSP office this semester include: Advanced Italian Language, Culture of Food and Italian Identity, Italian Political History from 1943 - 2000 and Art and Society in Italy from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The annual BCSP trip to Tuscany's Val d'Orcia will take place Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1. The semester will conclude on June 30.

This newsletter issue features five fascinating BCSP students, past and present, that have something in common: intellectual and existential life lessons inspired by study abroad. Mary Prokop (University of Notre Dame) finds her love for a good story narrated in painting and sculpture. Noelle Turtur (University of Chicago) decides that in the pursuit of the 'Life of the Mind' she needs to put the books aside and get to the party. Becky Lee, a BCSP alumnae (Cornell University) takes on a new language as key to open another door of opportunity. Fellow alumnae Joanna Faso (University of Chicago) realizes that life is where she is even when life has taken her to some of the most sought out destinations in the world. Jean Jiminez (University of Wisconsin) discovered her calling as an English teacher in Bologna, which developed into a career as an English professor at Università della Calabria. Read on to discover more about them!


Glimpse into student apartments:

New student profiles have been added to the BCSP website's housing section. See what apartments look like and read about the valuable experience and knowledge that students gained thanks to the housing search.

View more photos in our Facebook album.

Photo on the right (courtesy of Brigida Gianzi): Francesca Voci
(Tulane University, BCSP Spring 2013) in her room in via Pastrengo.

Student MARY PROKOP (University of Notre Dame, BCSP Spring semester 2013) delves into Art History from an English & Italian major's point of view:

Throughout my time as an undergraduate at Notre Dame, I have chosen courses that have challenged and expanded the way I search for truth in thinking about the world. As an English and Italian literature major, however, my academic work predictably consists of a lot of writing and even more reading. When choosing courses in Bologna, I decided it was time to venture into another field of study. I enrolled in Filologia Dantesca and Letteratura Italiana Medievale at Unibo, but also chose Professor Benevolo’s BCSP course on Arte e Società tra Medioevo e Rinascimento.

In addition to learning the vocabulary necessary to describe sculptures, architecture and paintings and learning characteristics of Early Christian, Byzantine, Gothic, Late Gothic and Renaissance art, we learned to recognize that the works produced in Italy between the Middle Ages and The Renaissance comprise an entity all its own even while exhibiting the influences of each of these styles. Each time we enter a church, we find ourselves turning to one another and saying, things like “Tre navate. Non c’è un transetto. Un’abside. Volte a crociera.” We might see one painting and point out how the flattened figures, gold background, and lack of depth link it to the Byzantine style, or how the realism which coexists with grotesque or unnatural exaggerations and idealized landscapes link another to the Late Gothic style.

Having learned about the work of Niccolò del Arca, Antonio di Vincenzo and Jacopo della Quercia, I have found an ever increasing appreciation for the architectural treasures that line the streets of Bologna and the works of art that fill its churches and museums. Before we learned about it in class, I had never stopped to notice La Madonna di Piazza on the façade of the Palazzo comunale in Piazza Maggiore. A terracotta sculpture done by Niccolò dell’Arca in 1478, the dynamic naturalism and deep shadows of the drapery folds evidence the fact that Niccolò had closely studied the sculptures of Jacopo della Quercia on the façade of nearby San Petronio. As an English major who loves stories, I am absolutely mesmerized by the narrative being told by Niccolò del Arca in Il Compianto sul Cristo Morto, housed within Santa Maria della Vita. Six life-size figures are grouped in a semi-circle around the lifeless body of Christ, and you can almost hear the silent, despairing screams that issue forth from their terracotta lips. When standing before the figure of Mary Magdalene, in particular, I am unable to look away. A wicked gust of wind seems to send her mantle streaming behind her, and her dress is plastered to her skin. Her body, however, is arched toward Christ in eternal anguish. French gothic influences are evident and the realism anticipates the Renaissance, but the raw, violent force that gives life to this piece is utterly unparalleled.

Until this semester, my art history education has been limited to absorbing information as I wander through museums and churches. I’ve been content to marvel at the work of artists and architects without being able to identify each piece I see, speak about the artist, the person who commissioned the work, or point out how it is in dialogue with pieces that came before it. After this semester, passive art appreciation will no longer be possible for me or for my classmates – and I think we’re all glad of it.

'Life of a Different Mind'
Noelle Turtur
University of Chicago


Noelle, a History major, has been collaborating with the Chicago Maroon as a Viewpoints columnist during the second semester of her year abroad. This crucial 'halfway-though' moment is when students begin to evaluate how much progress they've made in terms of fluency, personal and academic growth. At 21 years of age, Noelle already writes with innate maturity. BCSP is looking forward to following Noelle's future endeavors!

The voice that comes through her writing is so vivid and descriptive that you will feel like a vicarious participant in all the events that Noelle attentively observes and all the emotions that living in another language and culture provoke within her. It's impossible to choose any one column to highlight here. We highly suggest that our Newsletter readers click on each and every one!


See pictures of Rachel Hullett (Tulane University, BCSP Academic Year 2012-13)
giving a guided tour of the Davia Bargellini Museum.


Becky Lee, Cornell University, BCSP Spring semester 2011, recently graduated and is currently in a leadership rotational program at Nielsen, a global media and marketing research company.  She often gets together with fellow BCSP alum, getting macchiatos in Boston with Paige Goodlett and recreating gelato tours in New York City with Harrison Warren.  She is currently taking Portuguese classes with hopes of teaching English in Brazil in preparation for the 2016 Olympics and plans to travel to both Peru and Turkey in the coming year.  In the future, she plans to take advantage of Nielsen's presence in over 100 countries and make traveling and learning about other cultures a full time job.

Joanna Faso, University of Chicago, BCSP Academic Year 1996-97, recently wrote to us:
I first arrived in Bologna in the fall of 1996 during my junior year abroad from the University of Chicago. That year abroad made such a strong impact on me, and even after I returned to Chicago and finished up my senior year, graduating in Romance Languages and Literature, I continued to think about returning.
I presumed I would soon be back to my beloved Bologna, but life happened and I soon moved to Montana, where I lived for 6 years and then relocated yet again to Hawaii in 2005. Even though I was always happy with my new homes and my growing career now as a yoga teacher, I always had Italy in the back of my mind.
Out of the blue a friend wrote me a message on Thanksgiving Day 2011 and invited me to come to Bologna to help her open her new yoga studio, Bikram Hot Yoga Bologna. I instantly accepted and soon applied for a visa to study so that I could finally get back into the groove with the Italian language. While applying for my visa, I discovered that I was also eligible for citizenship and started to gather all the necessary documents for that process. Finally in May of 2012, almost 15 years since I had left Bologna, I boarded a plane back to this beautiful city of porticoes.
I have kept in touch with several of my friends from BCSP and have been happy to share with them some new Italian adventures. In a sense, we came of age together and even though we were away at college, coming to Bologna was our first REAL get away from life back home. We always felt well taken care of by everyone that was a part of the program and, now looking back, I realize how easy they made it to transition to life in Italy. Coming back and having to take care of all the paperwork and red tape on my own, I wish I could go back to the staff in 1996-97 and thank them for all they did to support us! I am so happy that the program is still going strong and so many students have had the opportunity to come and discover the treasures of Bologna.

Jean Jimenez, University of Wisconsin, BCSP Academic Year 1984-85, reflects on the BCSP experience 29 years ago:
My year abroad was something I had been looking forward to since freshman year. I dreamed about spending a year in Europe, in Italy in particular, because it represented a whole new world to me. I was attracted by the culture, history, language, fashion, food, you name it. I still remember the flight over and then the overnight train from Luxemburg! It took ages to get to Bologna and lugging our suitcases around was certainly not fun. But as soon as we arrived at the train station I knew it would be a special year.
At our first meeting with Nicoletta, we were given information about the city, the University, accomodation, etc. Fun-filled lessons at Cilta for six weeks before the real courses began, no washing machine, more parties, road trips, a phone only because one of my roommates was stubburn enough to insist we get one. Everyone used to come over to phone home, although we had a "scatti" counter, somebody always forgot to write it down. The dollar was worth almost 2,000 lire so it all seemed so cheap....
That year changed my life. I decided to stay an extra year because 'when will I ever get a chance to visit Europe again?' I told my parents, who were naturally quite concerned (i.e., freaking out). I taught English and soon decided that would be my calling. I did go back to Wisconsin to finish school and get my BA, but came back to Italy as soon as I graduated, married an Italian, spent four years in Bologna before moving to Calabria, where I've been ever since. Two degrees later I became a researcher at the University of Calabria after working as a lettrice for many years. Would I do it all again? Let's just say that I can't wait for my daughters to spend a year abroad.

www.bcsp.unibo.it andrea.ricci18@unibo.it