Architecture students study abroad in Florence


Kristin Goodwin in Florence, Italy near the Duomo di Firenze.

Brittany Wilson

Imagine walking the streets of Italy and smelling pasta, pizza and gelato. You’re in a city full of history, especially of the architectural variety. You just had your last class of the week, and now you’re heading to a new city in a new country. 

For some Kent State architecture students, this is a reality. Third year architecture and interior design majors are encouraged to study abroad to enhance their understanding of the fields.

David Thal, an adjunct professor and global education coordinator for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, said nearly 70 percent of architecture students who go abroad during their time at Kent State choose Florence, Italy.

Yasmin Goulding, a junior architecture major currently studying abroad, chose to study abroad to better understand architectural restoration. Her experience began just a few weeks ago.

Goulding described her studio experience so far as intimate, rewarding and a time when she’s forced interaction with peers.

“Kent State has the most amazingly set up university here with professors genuinely interested in enriching each student’s cultural awareness,” Goulding said.

She feels that when she comes back to the States, she will be able to put her newfound knowledge into her work and eventually pursue an internship, and later a career.

Architecture students study images of architecture throughout their education. Going abroad is a way for them to see the images from the textbook come alive.

Senior architecture major Kristin Goodwin studied abroad last spring semester during her junior year.

“It’s an amazing feeling to study something like a building in a textbook or PowerPoint and then see it in real life,” Goodwin said.

In addition to Thal’s other responsibilities, he also prepares students for their time abroad.

“I think that when students have the opportunity to study in another culture, they’re just exposed to more diverse ways of thinking,” Thal said. “They look at things in new ways, through a new lens.”

Thal also said he and other faculty members see a difference in students’ work.

“I believe that the semester abroad program in Florence really, because they’re so immersed in another culture, changes them,” he said. “They become more globally aware. It absolutely does change their perspective and how they think about design. And we do see it in their work.”

Goodwin, Goulding and Thal all recommend architecture students look into the current study abroad opportunities.

“I think it (study abroad) made me a better student,” Goodwin said.

Brittany Wilson covers arts and architecture. Contact her at [email protected].