Member Login:

University of Minnesota Scholarship Winner Blog 2018 - Elena Cattaneo

My name is Elena Cattaneo and I am this year’s recipient of the ICC Massimo Bonavita Memorial Scholarship. I am a rising junior at the University of Minnesota studying Neuroscience and Italian and I want to thank you for choosing me to receive this scholarship, as it will allow me to pursue my lifelong dream of learning Italian.

I was born in Zurich, Switzerland and moved to Minnesota at fifteen months old, where I grew up speaking German and English. Most of my relatives are from Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland and I try to visit them regularly. As a child I forged friendships with my cousins, all the while speaking different languages, and as I became older my desire to learn Italian and communicate properly with my family became stronger every time I returned to Switzerland. A large part of my decision to attend the University of Minnesota was due to its Italian program, and I have been lucky to be taught by incredible teachers and professors for the past two years. I have learned more than I thought I would in such a short amount of time, and already my ability to communicate with my family has flourished. I can only imagine how much more I will learn this fall while studying at the University of Bologna, where I hope to take courses in Italian literature and history.

I am so grateful to the ICC for helping make my dream to immerse myself in Italy’s beautiful language and culture a reality. I believe that this opportunity will not only allow me to learn a new language, but it will also allow me to grow and learn about myself in a way that can only be done by leaving the comfort of normality, and by vulnerably embracing a new way of life.

September 2018

It’s hard to believe that just one month ago I arrived in Bologna nervous, unsure of my language skills, but so excited. The first few days were action packed and eventful as I met new friends, tried unfamiliar foods, and explored the city. Every day was a fun new adventure, but the excitement of the novelty was spotted by many moments of uncertainty. During the first week I got lost every time I went somewhere new and little things like grocery shopping or asking to taste a flavor of gelato caused me stress and anxiety. Sometimes when I spoke Italian to locals, they would respond in English. That always diminished my confidence and I wondered if I would ever feel truly at home in this city.

Here I am 30 days later taking classes at the University of Bologna taught exclusively in Italian, easily navigating around the city relying solely on landmarks and street names, and speaking freely and more confidently (thanks to a two-week intensive grammar course). I can direct you to my favorite gelateria and the best osteria in town. I know where all the UniBo students go to enjoy the cheapest aperitivos, I have a favorite park and running route up Bologna’s hills, and the owner of Bar Cartoleria knows my coffee order. I have begun to find my “spots” in this city, making it my home, and I couldn’t be more content!

Ferrara, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Pasta making at an Agriturismo

Mosaics in Ravenna, Emilia Romagna, Italy

The view from Santuario della Madonna di San Luca. Bologna, Emilia Romagna, Italy.

Mural in Dozza, Emilia Romagna, Italy

A beautiful sunset in Dozza

Me with some friends from the Bologna Consortial Studies Program in Dozza

Two Minnesota Gophers attempting to make an “M” in front of Mount Vesuvius in Naples, Campania, Italy.

Procida, Italy

Parco Villa Ghigi – my favorite place to run and a great view of the city!



The Italian Cultural Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization
 528 Hennepin Ave | Minneapolis, MN 55403 | (612) 295-4111 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software