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Thinking of studying Italian? Take a look at this video featuring one of our finalists, Eleanor Bermingham. She and other students and graduates explain why Italian is the language for them and how they got the most from their year abroad.

Here’s what she had to say about her time in Italy.

E BerminghamI was an intern at an organisation called Slow Food, whose aims, as you might imagine from the name, are to slow down the increasing industrialisation of our agriculture and to fight the presence of fast food as a staple in our daily lives. The organisation is based in Bra (always fun to explain), Piedmont, just an hour south of Turin, where its founder, Carlo Petrini, grew up, and where Slow Food has its international and Italian headquarters, as well as its publishing and promotions offices. Globally, Slow Food is present in over 150 countries, and is a members’ association. I was working in the International Communications Office with a team of colleagues from places as diverse as Germany, Kenya, Australia, etc.

Working from 9 to 6.30 was a harsh call to the reality of working life after a laid-back university timetable. But, I won’t lie, the hour and a half we were allowed for lunch was sweet. I got to work on translations and editing of all different types of Slow Food texts: printed materials, online content, and even emails corresponding with the members in India! Also, as the baby of the office, I was invited to work on Slow Food Youth Network, the branch of young food activists who I believe make the topic of food relevant, and even, dare I say it, cool. For me, this was an extreme learning curve as I knew little about the world of food before my time at Slow Food, and, now, I could give anyone a lesson on oyster farming! Food is a far more complex subject than many realise, tapping into history, politics and enterprise. Italians are always looking for people to join the debate, and Slow Food was an extremely interesting place to start.

Understanding and speaking Italian was key to getting the most out of my work placement and founding lasting friendships. I got to visit various parts of Italy too! Rome, Verona, Lucca, Milan and Padua… to name a few. Italy is rich in culture, each place has a unique history, and there is always something delicious to nibble on. I couldn’t recommend spending a year abroad in Italy more; it boosts your confidence, employability, and your waistline!