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LBW instructor studies abroad in Italy

Those who know Lurleen B. Wallace Community College instructor Mollie Waters know she is an intrepid soul who enjoys exploring the world. So when she got the opportunity to apply for a study abroad training opportunity offered through Auburn University with the assistance of Coastal Community College, she was eager to pursue it.

“I asked for permission to apply, which was granted, and I submitted my application in January,” Waters explains. In early March, Waters received word that she, along with Shelton Community College’s Jaia Chen, were the two community college faculty members who had been selected to receive the training.

After some pre-departure training at Auburn University in early April, Waters left on her trip to the Eternal City, Rome on May 13.

While the training was only scheduled for May 14 through May 19, Waters spent 17 days in Italy.

“I decided to extend my time in Italy in order to see the sights of the country, as I do love to travel,” she explains.

During the week of training sessions, Waters observed a briefing day on what students should expect during their time in Rome, engaged in Italian lessons and participated in other activities, visiting Rome’s attractions and taking a one-day trip to Orvieto, roughly an hour’s train ride from Rome.

Once her training week was over, Waters set out to discover more of the rich history of Italy first hand, visiting Pompeii, Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Campania, Florence and Venice.

She discovered great crowds of people everywhere she went (“I’ve been to many major cities, but they were not even close to being as crowded as Rome during my trip”), but found Florence to be her favorite city of all those visited in Italy.

“I absolutely loved Florence. It was crowded, but not as much as in Rome or Venice,” Waters says. “It’s very beautiful, and has an almost ‘small town’ feel to it. It’s a historic city with so much artwork in its numerous galleries, and wonderful food, too.”

Speaking of food, Waters says she started off eating Italian pasta dishes, “but I got tired of that in a hurry.” Then she discovered the best food can be gotten at the “trattoria” establishments.

“These are more like what we’d call ‘mom and pop’ restaurants where the food is local cuisine with authentic recipes,” she explains.

“The trattorias in Venice were especially good because they had seafood.”

While in Italy, Waters also enjoyed plenty of that sweet, cool treat, gelato. “They had some traditional flavors, such as mango, pineapple, and lemon, but almost every place had something a little different. One place in Venice had blue gelato that was labeled ‘Smurf’ gelato,” Waters says.

The biggest surprise this seasoned traveler found during her 17 days in Italy? Those crowds.

“All of the major tourist attractions (Vatican City, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain) were just swimming with tourists,” Waters recounts.

“Some of the buses were so packed the doors couldn’t even close because there were so many people on them. I may go back to Italy one day, but it won’t be during May-September.”

The college instructor rates the overall experience as a good one.

“I feel as if I learned enough from my training that perhaps, one day in the future, I will be able to offer study abroad experiences through LBWCC,” she says.

“That’s the end goal, but it will take a while to get there.”