STANFORD, Calif. - Junior Kate Kidd traveled to Florence, Italy for the fall quarter as part of the Bing Overseas Studies Program.
Kidd, a science, technology and society major with a focus in design and innovation, knew all along that Florence was the place for her. When it came time to apply for the Bing program she started taking Italian for the language prerequisite.
“I wanted to study in Florence before I even applied to Stanford,” said Kidd. “I had gone there with my parents and fell in love with the city and Italy in general. I knew that one day I would really like to study there.”
Her wish came true as she not only got to spend a quarter taking classes in Florence, but also got to explore the rest of Italy and Europe. Some of the other places she traveled to where with her other teammates who were abroad. These excursions included going to England with Jordan Duval-Smith, to Munich with Erin Antono and to Greece with Alicia Kapjian-Pitt. She also went to Oxford, Vienna and Istanbul among other places.
“It was a great experience to experience another culture on my own,” said Kidd. “I have traveled fairly extensively with my parents but living abroad was a different experience. It was the best decision I have made at Stanford besides joining the rowing team.”
After taking Italian to get into the program she was able to focus on some classes that counted towards her major while she was there. She took a film class that covered Italian cinema and neorealism. The class watched two or three films a week starting with Cabiria and working towards Life is Beautiful. Kidd also took a class on the history of Forentine art.
“It was a fantastic opportunity because I wasn’t in to film before I went to Italy, but I ended up loving the class,” said Kidd. “I never would have taken it on campus. The art class was a glorified field trip. It was great because we got to go behind the scenes on private tours of monuments.”
Kidd went with her classmates to various monuments around Florence to learn about the history of the building and its art. Some private tours cost as much as 300 euros but her class was able to experience that for free. Her professor was a head priest in the Florence Cathedral and one of her favorite parts was going up on the roof.
“We got to go up on the roof which was special because no one ever gets to do that,” said Kidd. “That was an amazing class that provided many opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
Little did Kidd know, but perhaps what she took away from Florence the most was the food culture. The two main things were not drinking cappuccinos after 11 a.m. and using meals as an opportunity to sit and talk about your day and catch up with friends.
“Italians think that cappuccinos are heave, morning drinks and it is bad form to drink them after 11 a.m.,” said Kidd. “I haven’t ordered one after 11 a.m. since I have been back and that used to be my go-to drink.”
Kidd has also taken advantage of meal times more than she ever had before. She has prioritized meals since returning to the U.S. and now tries to get together with people over meals. In Italy meals usually take longer and have multiple courses. They include two courses followed by either desert or fruit.
“My host family used meals as an opportunity to talk about their day,” said Kidd. “Italians hate to see people eating on the go. They see meals as a time for family. Taking that time is something I enjoy more now.”
Along those lines, Kidd seemed to have a focus on food when she was in Italy. She did a research project on gelato for her Italian class.
“I got to go sample and make gelato in various shops around the city,” said Kidd. “I had my favorite places for gelato.”
In order to stay in shape for when she returned to campus, she had to work off all that gelato she was sampling. One of her favorite things was running to Piazzale Michelangelo, a hill on the other side of the Arno River that overlooked the city. She also was able to find a historic local rowing club called the Canottieri.
“The rowing club was actually the Medici family’s old stables underneath the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio bridge,” said Kidd. “I could not imagine a better venue for rowing because of the scenery.”
The course was not conducive to practicing like normal because it was only 1,800 meters long and had bridges to navigate through. It did, however, provide an experience Kidd would never forget.
“Being able to row underneath the bridges and see the city from the water was surreal,” said Kidd. “It was a real treat to be out on the water because being away from rowing for a quarter made us miss it so much that we really looked forward to it.”
Kidd’s recap of her study abroad experience is the sixth and final of the gostanford.com features that chronicled the experiences of the six juniors on the lightweight rowing team who spent the fall quarter in the Bing Overseas Studies Program.
Keep checking gostanford.com throughout the spring season to see how the six juniors and the rest of the lightweight rowing team fare in competitions. The first race will be March 29 at Redwood Shores, Calif. against Saint Mary’s and Wisconsin.