Twenty-six CSUF students and two public health faculty experienced nutrition and wellness in South Italy this past June. As part of their enrollment in the summer course, PUBH 350 (Nutrition), they ventured to Naples Italy to begin a two-week study abroad program that included ferry and bus rides to Ischia, Capri, Mount Vesuvius, and various spots along the Amalfi Coast. Here, they discovered the influences of culture, environment, and history on eating and wellness practices.
They participated in hikes through farmlands, tours of pasta and mozzarella manufacturing sites, cooking classes, and visits to historic thermal spas where they practiced yoga and enjoyed volcanic thermal baths. In addition, they visited historic sites like Pompei, and the Royal Palace of Caserta.
These experiences created opportunities for real-life application of classroom concepts. Carolynn Cao captures this well in her final paper: “The Ischian diet, predominantly plant-based with an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, exemplified the principles of science-based nutrition. The emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and traditional cooking methods showcased the significance of sustainable, wholesome food choices.”
In addition, students gained an appreciation of different people, traditions and ways of living. Student Ashley Aguayo stated in her reflection paper, “Experiencing a new culture and community sparked my curiosity of other cultures. I loved learning about different ways of life.”
Faculty members were also transformed through the program. Laura Chandler states, “My way of looking at wellness has broadened and my understanding of the many influences of nutrition and eating behaviors has deepened…I believe I have even more to offer my future students after this study abroad experience.”