Imagine a weekend filled with pizza, pasta and polka – sound appealing?

This weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the Italian Immersion weekend. Renée D'Elia-Zunino, an Italian teacher at UT, started the program in hopes to encourage students to practice Italian in a more interactive environment.

When I first heard of this trip, I felt a bit hesitant about going, having barely completed one semester of Italian 111, and not being the most studious person in the class. I figured this trip would be a challenge. However, I chose to abandon my doubts and take full advantage of this opportunity to practice Italian in a whole new environment. Many students in my class were not as willing to dedicate a weekend to what they thought would be a 48 hour class, but I came to find this weekend a vacation from the rut I've been in.

So, I packed up my rolling pin and my Italian dictionary for the two-hour voyage to Buffalo Mountain Camp in Jonesborough, Tenn. I rode with two acquaintances, and by the end of the immersion, I found them to be extremely worldly and interesting friends.

When we first arrived we instantly began rolling the pizza dough out. We each were allowed to make our own personal pizza, which was a nice break from the daily Ramen Noodle diet.

The wide age range of students from freshman to grad students impressed me. I was especially drawn to Susanna and Pietro, an adorable retired couple who were taking advantage of a Tennessee program that offers free college classes to anyone over the age of 65.

Susanna and Pietro took over much of the cultural aspect of the weekend by teaching us Italian songs and dances. I especially enjoyed the Italian Folk dance they taught us; it was quite humorous seeing our generation dance to classical music.

We awoke the next morning to a light Italian breakfast. A hike and scavenger hunt followed, but the main focus of the day was to put on the authentic Italian dinner that had been in preparation stages since the morning.

Before we could eat the well-anticipated four-course meal, we were asked to familiarize ourselves with a map of Rome by locating several famous places, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The dinner arrived soon after starting with brochette, moving on to freshly-made bread and then the main course of pasta alfredo. For dessert, we all had a generous helping of freshly made tiramisu, all prepared by my Italian teacher Annachiara Mariani. This pleasant meal made it hard to imagine going back to the same old humdrum food at PCB.

After the dinner one of the Italian teachers, Sal Di Maria, introduced us to the Urbino program. The Urbino program is a five-week, intensive study abroad program during the summer that allows students to study Italian in Urbino, Italy. For those of you taking Italian, it counts as two semesters' worth of Italian credits and is highly recommended by both students and teachers.

The night was wrapped up by a fashion show in which the girls and guys strutted the runway in their best attire, but the winner was chosen not by what they were wearing but who could best describe in Italian what they were wearing.

If I had anything negative to say about Italian Immersion weekend it would be that it was not long enough. Learning a language from a textbook is one thing but when challenged to actually speak it as a necessity is when you truly begin to comprehend it.

I encourage people taking any foreign language to take advantage of the study abroad programs and other activities the campus offers. For those of you taking Italian, I strongly recommend joining the Italian club and joining us on the 11th annual immersion weekend.

Kaila Curry is a freshman in English. She can be reached at kcurry6@utk.edu.