William and Mary
Sally Wade
Sally Wade

About  Posts

Hometown: Oakton, VA
Class of 2014

Archived Blogger

Siena, Italy: Just Getting Started

January 30, 2012 by

Hey Everyone,

So I’m back in Italy. I spent the summer in Florence and it wasn’t quite enough. I decided to come back and spend a whole semester learning Italian. I’ve chosen to attend a program called Siena Italian Studies which is offered through Study Abroad Italy (check out the bottom of this page for links to both of the websites).

Today I want to explain the structure of the program I’m attending because it’s a bit different than other study abroad programs…

Siena Italian Studies uses an approach they call FICCS (full-immersion: culture, content and service). The program is an entry point for foreign students to immerse themselves in the culture of Siena.

We talked yesterday in class about culture – how personal it is to each country, region, city, community, etc. It encompasses food, style of dress, customs, beliefs, mode of communication, language, and much more. We all had trouble coming up with a precise definition and came to the conclusion that culture cannot be taught or made explicit – it can only be experienced.

Confronting culture is at the core of the FICCS approach. The staff’s goal is to create opportunities for students to touch and experience Sienese culture.

First: the homestay. Every student is placed into an Italian home. We sleep, eat, study, hang-out, and live there. Every night at dinner I take a crash course in Italian language. More than just learning the language, I’m learning bit by bit how to live like an Italian.

Second: content courses are taught in Italian – beginners and advanced students are mixed together and work collaboratively to grasp both the new information and the foreign language in which it’s taught. I’m considering taking History of Italian Immigration and Introduction to Sociolinguistics.

Third: perhaps the most distinctive or “strange” part of the FICCS approach is service. Siena Italian Studies provides ample opportunities for students to get involved. To see Siena. To perhaps see beyond “Tourist Siena.” In my opinion, it’s such a privilege to be allowed into the Sienese community.

We haven’t yet begun our service projects but for now I’ll just list a few of the options:

  • teach English at local elementary schools
  • volunteer at soup kitchen
  • gardening
  • assisting with the ambulance service
  • spending time with the elderly at an assisted living facility

I think I can safely speak for all of my peers when I say we are so excited to just dive in and take advantage of everything this program has to offer.



*Study Abroad Italy: saiprograms.com/siena

*Siena Italian Studies: sienaitalianstudies.com

The Flavor of Italy (and Pâté)

July 11, 2011 by

[I just wanted to add a quick note and let you all know that I wrote a series of blogs while I was in Italy last month that I didn’t have the capability to post while I was actually there. This is the first of a series that I will be posting for the next month or so. I have not altered my posts to put them in the past because I wanted to share with you my real experiences as I saw them in the moment. I hope you enjoy!]

Ciao a tutti!

I’m blogging from across the Atlantic – sitting in a garden overlooking the breadbasket of Umbria in the city of Assisi, Italy. I’ve been hoping to update everyone for days because so much has already happened on this journey that I want to share with you, but alas, wifi has been virtually non existent thus far.

This was just the beginning stage of packing for my trip.

I’m studying abroad this summer with the William and Mary program in Florence, Italy. Beginning on Friday, I will be studying Italian and art history in the “Cradle of the Renaissance” with 25 other W&M students and the director of the Muscarelle Art Museum, Dr. Aaron DeGroft. (For more on why and how I applied for this program check out my previous blogs!) For me this journey began two days after I took the final exam of my freshman year when I boarded a flight to Rome with my mom and dad. The plan was to visit Rome and Assisi with my parents for a week, travel with them to Florence, and then they would continue on to the Cinque Terra while I stayed behind to begin my program. There have been so many incredible moments that I hope to update you on later, but for now let’s fast forward to my visit to the medieval town of Assisi.

Streets Lined with Stone

Last night we wandered into a small restaurant up an alley off the main piazza in Assisi. By this point in our trip, we were in search of a lighter meal and so the menu filled with zuppe verdure (vegetable soup), pollo (chicken), and insalate miste (salad) was a much needed respite from the cheese-laden dishes we had eaten up to this point (which were to-die-for mind you, but one can’t eat sweet nectar of the gods every meal of every day and still think of it as a delicious treat). When the waiter came to take our order it was apparent that he spoke very limited English. In Rome, most waiters seemed to speak English much more fluently than I speak Italian and so would automatically switch. From time to time I would slip in a vorrei (I would like) or grazie but not much more. Last night felt like a real chance to flex my Italian muscle.

One of the many stunning white-brick homes in Assisi.

I ordered for all of us in italiano without stuttering too badly or making any huge errors to my knowledge. I felt a deep sense of accomplishment – even though the victory was superficial, it seemed like a huge step forward in my confidence. I came to Italy to improve my language skills and the only way to get anywhere is to bumble through the mistakes and poor pronunciation and allow my tongue to grow accustomed to the new language.

My efforts were rewarded then in a way I hadn’t imagined. Suddenly the waiter was bringing out bruschetta with pâté for our table. My immediate thought was “Oh shoot, what have I done!?! We didn’t order any appetizers … could I have possibly mangled the word for soup so badly he thought I meant this??? I need to pull out my pocket dictionary from my purse right now and figure out how to explain this…

In reality, the man was complimenting and thanking me for my use of Italian! This was exciting and I think I blushed with surprise, pleasure, and a touch of embarrassment. It was also one of those moments where you are simultaneously elated and filled with dread. Pâté is something I’ve never had before. My vague understanding of the delicacy involved ground-up liver of various animals – something that sounded far from delicious to me. However, I was faced with the fact that this pâté was a gift and it would be rude not to eat it; so I took a deep breath and took a big bite. I’ll be completely honest: I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. It was something I had never tried before and the taste was colored by both my excitement to take in everything new Italy had to offer and the knowledge that the pâté was an embodiment of my success in speaking Italian.

I’m hoping for many more moments like this along the way. I’ll keep you updated.

Shin Splints & Finals

April 26, 2011 by

I am sitting in Swem attempting to work on a paper (obviously it’s not going too well) and tapping my foot to George Michael’s song Faith. Last day of classes is this Friday…which is hard to believe. All that separates me from Friday is a paper, problem-set, and review activity. The paper is causing me a bit of angst (anyone know anything about the relationship between Iceland and the EU? Care to enlighten me?), but I’m excited to finish it up and then devote my full attention to preparing for finals.

I know that people often assume that William and Mary is extremely competitive and really difficult academically. From my experience, that is somewhat true. We do work hard. Our professors challenge us to stretch and grow and that process can be a bit painful. This semester I wrote my first fifteen page paper. Initially, the task was daunting. Something about the number 15 pages just felt insurmountable. Writing seven or eight pages was a piece of cake, but it took a lot of time and effort to reach that fifteen page mark. I just turned in that paper about a half hour ago and I am feeling mighty accomplished. I’m sure next semester will have me writing even longer and more involved papers and it will be just as painful of a process. But that’s how it works, right? Bit by bit we stretch ourselves and become better students, thinkers, and academics. So yes – we do work hard.

What isn’t true is that we are asked to do things that are impossible or that people here are cut-throat. I’ve been a bit stressed lately about getting everything done (and done well) and this has prompted me to get out and run more than usual. (I’m pretty sure I have shin splints, but my mom tells me I’m just being melodramatic.) It seems like around 9:30-10pm my urge to run kicks in and every time this has happened a hall mate has been willing to jog to CW with me. My friends have dropped what they were doing to help me relieve my stress. These people have their own projects, papers, and tests, but they are still here to support me. I’m still there to support them. This support network is invaluable. I could provide so many examples of times when a friend has done something nice for me because she knew I was having a difficult week.

I guess I want to leave you with an excerpt from an email I received last week from a friend who I’ve known since middle school. She’s now a freshman here at William and Mary…

I am sitting on a dryer in the middle of its cycle drying my clothes (getting my [butt] burned because the top is rather hot), waiting for water to boil on the stove nearby so I can make tortellini, hunched over my laptop listening to a boy soprano sing a soaring solo in an Anglican church piece we do in Schola while writing about the Da Vinci code.

I suddenly realized how happy I am.”

I have those moments all of the time. Usually I’m doing something really banal like sitting in Barnes and Noble, eating an apple, and working on a paper and it just hits me how content I am.

William and Mary is my home. I’m so happy to be here.


That Time of Year…

March 31, 2011 by

Hey Everyone,

This post is going to be short because I have two exams tomorrow and I should be studying, but I thought that this time of year warranted a quick post.  My Facebook newsfeed has been buzzing for the past week as my high school friends received decisions from various schools. [Note: I want to preface what I’m about to say with this: I am in no way involved with Office of Admissions and cannot comment on the decision process at William and Mary.] I’m guessing I’m like many of you out there – I sent in my applications, crossed my fingers, and then anxiously waited for the decisions to come in. And guess what – I got waitlisted last year at William and Mary. One beautiful day during Spring Break I was supposed to go see the cherry blossoms in D.C. with my family but never made it because a too thin letter came in the mail. I don’t want to be melodramatic, but I can honestly say that when I opened up that letter and saw that I had been waitlisted it felt like my stomach just plummeted to the floor. That day was horrible. I was disappointed, embarrassed, angry, and a bit nauseous. I feel like the college admissions process is a very vulnerable one. I attempted to pour myself onto commonapp.org and then had to click “submit” and just let a bit of me fly into cyberspace. That’s scary.

It’s even scarier when that little piece of you gets rejected. Plain and simple – being waitlisted or rejected sucks. I don’t know exactly what each of you is going through. I can’t possibly tell you why I was waitlisted and then received a phone call from W&M the first week of May and eventually ended up becoming a member of the Tribe.  But I can tell you that I know how it feels.  Please know that there are so many great schools, so many great opportunities, and so many different paths that can give you a life filled with love, happiness, success, and all the things you dream of achieving. I wish each of you the best of luck during this stressful time of year.

And remember, there is nothing that good friends, good food (I’m talking about chocolate here), and a good movie can’t solve.



PS – And to those that have decided where you will be attending next year – William and Mary or not – CONGRATULATIONS! I highly encourage you to enjoy every last bit of your senior year…

Catching Up and Hitting the Ground Running

February 7, 2011 by

It’s Sunday afternoon – the day when I try to catch up on all the things I meant to get done during the week and that includes blogging after a very long interlude. I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by. It’s really hard to imagine that only six months ago I was nervously preparing to move in to my freshmen dorm. I feel like this semester has a completely different rhythm than the last one. Classes, clubs, activities, and life seem to just be hurdling forward at  a breakneck pace, and while it requires a bit of planning, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Winter Break was glorious and I absolutely loved spending time stuck in a bedroom stripping wallpaper with my mom for two weeks straight (okay, it wasn’t much fun), but I’m glad to be back in the Burg. Last semester began with me spending every moment with my Yatesment hall mates and our fabulous OAs (Orientation Aides), asking upperclassmen how to get to Morton, forgetting to take my ID card everywhere, and trying to learn the words of our Alma Mater. This semester is shaping up to be even better…

  • I’m planning to declare a government major this semester and filling up on plenty of the major requirements.
  • I’ve applied for a job at the Prime Outlets so that I can afford my trips to WaWa.
  • I’m excited about several upcoming events I’m planning as a member of the Intern Committee of Alma Mater Productions (our campus programming board).
  • My legs are constantly bruised from playing pick-up indoor soccer at the Rec with some friends. These bruises are primarily self-inflicted as I am a terrible (but extremely enthusiastic) soccer player.
  • The Roots Charter Day Concert was absolutely fantastic last night. Happy 318th Birthday, William and Mary!

While all of the above is exciting, the two best parts of my semester thus far relate to the College’s language requirement. Confession: in all honesty, I came to William and Mary dreading the foreign language requirement. While I enjoyed the idea of learning French in high school, the actual process of acquiring a new language was a real struggle for me. I imagined that the process would be similar here as well – just with a whole new language. In reality, deciding to take Italian turned out to be one of the best decisions I made during my first semester at the College.

My roommate (fellow blogger Sofia Chabolla) and I have applied to live in the Italian House next year. At William and Mary, students can apply to live in one of eight language houses (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, or Spanish). Each house has a native language tutor that lives with the students and helps put on programming related to each culture for the William and Mary community. Last semester I attended several cooking lessons in the Italian House in order to fulfill a requirement in my Italian 101 class. Fulfilling a class assignment turned out to be a lot of fun and made me want to apply to live in the house next year.

Last week, Sofia and I both had our interviews with Giacomo, the house tutor, and Professor Annunziato, the advisor and my Italian professor. My interview was conducted almost entirely in Italian which caught me off guard because that wasn’t what I expected, but I think I managed well. My one mistake was when Professor Annunziato asked me how I felt about living in a space that was much more communal than a traditional hall. We have a shared kitchen, living room, dining room, bathrooms, etc. and it’s important for everyone to help keep it clean. I understood all of this in Italian, but I was at a total loss for how to respond. So I said Mi piace … [long, awkward pause]…. …. Clorox wipes (translation: I like Clorox wipes). Whoops.

We have also applied to the William and Mary Summer Program in Florence. If accepted, Sofia and I will spend a month with approximately 30 other W&M students and Professor Brian Hulse immersed in the culture, language, and beauty of Italy. As of February 1st, our applications have been sent in and we are waiting to hear back in mid-to-late February. If we hear back yes, expect to read much more from me about preparations for our trip and possibly even some blogging from across the Atlantic in May!

This is getting long and tonight’s the Super Bowl which means I’m excited to watch and rate commercials. So to sum it all up:

  1. Check out specialty housing at: http://www.wm.edu/offices/residencelife/oncampus/residencehalls/specialinterest/index.php
  2. See how far William and Mary can take you with the Reves Center for International Study at: www.wm.edu/revescenter


Sally Wade

Midterm Smörgåsbord: Nutella, Notes, & New Expectations

November 8, 2010 by

I am having blog writer’s block so I apologize for the delay. It didn’t really occur to me (although it should have) that writing a blog to appear on the William and Mary website would increase the probability that people would read it instead of my thoughts just quietly disappearing into the noise of cyber sphere. I’m just a tad mortified that you now can picture me singing “Sweet Child of Mine.” That being said, I appreciate all of you who commented or told me you saw/read my blog.  Let’s just pretend the singing didn’t happen, okay?

Onward and upward…

I can hardly believe it’s November – Thanksgiving is only weeks away, I’m registered for classes for the spring semester, and finals are fast approaching. It is only now that the ink has dried, the grades are recorded, and enough time has passed that I can talk about midterms.

One of my most intimidating experiences so far as a freshman has been preparing for and taking midterm exams. It was fairly daunting to prepare for tests that count for about 40% of my final grade especially when I really had no way to gauge what a college-level exam or paper looked like. This was my first opportunity to show my professors what I had been learning in the past two months and I was anxious to prove myself capable of meeting the demanding expectations of my new environment.

My midterm smorgasbord included a multiple-choice exam, in-class essay, and take home essay (my fourth class didn’t have a midterm). Because Swem and I haven’t found a comfortable relationship yet – it’s too quiet and too loud all at the same time – studying took place in my room. I attempted to put together a plan of attack: an hour of reviewing my Gospel of John freshmen seminar notes, fifteen minute Nutella and cracker break, two hours memorizing the visual cortex for psychology, etc. Essentially, I studied. I made flash cards. The Chicago Manual of Style “Frequently Asked Questions” page was a constant tab on Internet Explorer. I turned in my paper. I took my exams. I held my breath.

And then something really wonderful happened – I realized why I came to William and Mary. We are lucky enough to be at a school where professors care about us. My exams were graded by professors. In one class, my professor made time for each of us to come in for a one-on-one meeting to discuss our strengths and weaknesses as a writer. He took the time to ask me how I was adjusting to college and gave me some great advice on what to major in. In another, my professor wrote several paragraphs in response to my essay. I would bet that some of the larger schools around us are simply unable to extend such a personalized education due to their size.

It is in receiving feedback rather than just a numerical grade that I feel the desire to learn more, to do better, and to work harder when finals roll around. I know where and how to improve.  Now it’s only a matter of putting in the hours… Wish me luck!



My Pre-Dawn Jogging Delusion

October 26, 2010 by

I had this concept before entering W&M that in college I would become a completely different person. My annoying habit of over-thinking things? Gone. My inability to get up early? I’d be up at 7 a.m. cheerfully getting in a morning run before heading to class. My fear of science? In college, chemistry would be my best friend…

None of this happened. I’m still me. Surprising, I know. I guess my belief was a little naïve considering close to 70 students from my high school took the great leap to college with me at W&M. It’s hard to reinvent yourself when there are ten people in your freshmen dorm who spent the last four years with you. Even more than that, I realized that I am me. My personality, preferences, fears, goals – they are all shaped by the experiences in my life. My history is no less a part of me than my arm is. (And let’s be honest, who is really able to cheerfully jog in the pre-dawn hours of the morning?)

For me, college has been an opportunity not to completely change, but to explore different sides of myself. During Freshmen Orientation I was talked into singing “Sweet Child of Mine” karaoke-style with a group of new friends. If you know me at all, you would know that I don’t sing in public, ever. One of my first weekends on campus, I spent the greater part of an evening lying on a blanket on the Sunken Gardens chatting with new friends about difficult times in our lives. These new friends saw a glimpse of the real me because I felt comfortable being vulnerable in their presence.

I know that high school can be a place that encourages us to blend in. From what I’ve experienced so far, that’s simply not the case at the College. I’m here to both challenge my perspective as well as feel comfortable sharing my perspective with the W&M community.

[By the way, this is my first day as an official W&M blogger and I’m excited to share with you my college experience. I’m hoping to update weekly…so be on the lookout for more!]