Course Field Trip: Reggio Emilia’s “Approach to Aging”

A large benefit of studying abroad is the opportunity to take classes that get you out of the classroom. If you feel nostalgic for class field trips, or just are the type of person that learns better by doing than sitting and listening, then many USAC courses will get you out of the classroom and in real world situations to help you learn.

One example is the Aging: an interdisciplinary approach course offered in Reggio Emilia, Italy. This course Introduces the study of aging, its implications for individuals, families, and society, and the background for health policy related to older persons. During the class students will get an overview on aging from different perspectives: demography, biology, epidemiology of diseases, physical and mental disorders, functional capacity and disability, health services, federal and state health policies, social aspects of aging, and ethical issues in the care of older individuals.

USAC students interacting with seniors during a class field trip

One opportunity that students also get in this class is a visit to the local senior living facility, “I Tulipani’. The goal of the visit is to show students the way an assisted living facility for older adults living in Italy is organized.

USAC students at assisted living home
USAC students visiting an assisted living home

During the visit, the students have the chance to observe the peculiar architecture of the facility, and interact with the guests. 

We spoke with a few students about this unique opportunity.

“… I absolutely loved our class field trip to the retirement home. Being able to have experiences like this is exactly why I came to Italy and it was one of my favorite things I’ve done so far.(…) My favorite part was interacting with the residents of course. I don’t think I ever stopped smiling! They were SO cute and so sweet and I loved that they all wanted to hold my hand. You could tell how excited they were to have us there even though they couldn’t understand us and we couldn’t understand them. I spent the majority of my time with sweet Liliana, who didn’t let go of my hand the entire time. She just loved talking to me and even asked to take a picture with me so that she could have a photo of the memory. “. Jacqueline Baxter – University of Idaho

Students hold hands with residents of I Tulipani
Students hold hands with residents of I Tulipani

“Visiting I Tulipani was an experience that I will never forget. It was very eye-opening and very interesting. I was impressed on the center’s layout and how it represents transparency. Their approach is very different than America’s approach. In America, most of the people are isolated with very little color and sunlight inside of the building. I also really liked how the center has its own “piazza” and how majority of the guests are very active”. Guillermo Rizo- UNLV

Getting to know the residents of I Tulipani
Getting to know the residents of I Tulipani

“…The facility did not feel like a retirement home as it felt like a community of Italian friends continuing their everyday life, rather than patients in a white-walled industrialized environment. Life is as it should be in this facility and the residents living there truly seem to enjoy their life. My favorite part of the visit was interacting with the residents! Although I could only understand a little of what they were saying and could only communicate with the best of my Italian knowledge, I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed listening to their stories, their passions, and their families, it reminded me of my “nonna”. Furthermore, this was an experience I will remember the rest of my life and cannot wait to bring what I learned about this facility back to America!” Marissa Marconi, Univ. Arkansas

Having a great day at I Tulipani
Having a great day at I Tulipani

Do you want to learn more about the courses and field trips offered in Reggio Emilia and other locations? Check out USAC’s website and find out more!


1 thought on “Course Field Trip: Reggio Emilia’s “Approach to Aging””

  1. I will be a Visiting Professor in Reggio Emilia this Fall. My research area is aging, and I hope that I will have the chance to visit Reggio Emilia Terza Età. I would even love to be able to do some work in the community related to aging!

Leave a Comment