This summer, UNM Instructor Teresa Cutler-Broyles and eight students from the University of New Mexico spent an exciting five weeks at The Umbra Institute, located in Perugia, Italy. This is the first time that students from UNM have taken a course at Umbra.

Cutler-Broyles’ class, Writing and History in Italian Gardens, explored the historical importance of gardens in Italy throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, and the influence gardens have had on the imagination of writers from across the globe. Cutler-Broyles took her class on many on-site visits both in Perugia and further afield, giving the students a chance to see in real-life what they had been studying in the classroom.

UNM student Maloni Fox said “We would spend a week in class reading and researching a painting, for example, and the next week we would take a class trip to see the actual painting! I love being able to personally experience the culture around me; I find it inspiring.”

During their field trips, the students took time out in the gardens to free write. They were encouraged to use sensory observations of the garden to fuel their creativity, and walk the same path of inspiration as writers before them. “In class we read about history, and then experience these sites firsthand; doing both provides an understanding of literature, making it easier to understand the mindset of the period” explained Cutler-Broyles.

From engineering to journalism, the span of academic majors present from UNM was more diverse than one would usually expect in one class. However, each student brought his or her own academic outlook into the experience of the gardens, and into the written work. For example, one student majoring in Engineering wrote a one-act play and drew accompanying set designs. The creative license of this class made it both accessible and applicable to many UNM students.           

For the duration of their five week study abroad, the students were located in Perugia, a university city located in central Italy. On experiencing life abroad, student Marissa LaCome said “I think that Perugia is an amazing place to study! The people are accepting and fun and the culture is fascinating…I wouldn’t have wanted to study any place else.”

Cutler-Broyles will be heading to the Umbra Institute again for the summer, 2015 class sessions, and will be teaching a class on Travel Writing in and about Italy, from the earliest travels through today. For more information, contact her at, at (505) 306-0906, in the CERIA building, Room 344, or through the Umbra Institute.

About the Umbra Institute
The Umbra Institute is an American study abroad program located in the central Italian city of Perugia. Often called a “big university town in a small Italian city,” Perugia is the ideal setting to study abroad in Italy, with fine arts, business, and liberal arts courses.