Honors College freshmen return from Florence, adjust to Kent Campus


 Reilly Schrock (left) and Sydney Munden during their semester in Florence.

Madeline Scalzi

The fall of 2017 marked the second year in a row that the Honors College took 20 first-semester freshmen to the Kent State Florence Center, Palazzo Vettori, in order to learn about the community and understand life through the eyes of another culture.

“I made friendships and started my life in Florence and then had to come back here to Kent,” said Reilly Schrock, a freshman integrated social studies major who studied in Florence in the fall.

Amber Cruxton, the associate director of education abroad, said that while in Florence, students are required to take freshman honors colloquium and elementary Italian one, as well as two to three Kent core classes such as art history, Roman achievement and Italian cinema.

While abroad the freshmen bond with their professors and peers in small, intimate classroom settings, but when they return to main campus, many of the students feel alone and left behind.

“Being back in Kent has been really hard,” said Sydney Munden, a freshmen fashion design major who studied in Florence her first semester. “Here the campus is bigger, and all the freshmen have experienced the new things that I am behind in, like experiencing dining hall food, and living in dorms. It’s just different.”

Upon their return to Kent, the students attend a re-entry session hosted by the Honors College in which they are briefed on re-entry culture shock, stress and time management and are given a tour of the campus. Students also listen to a student panel speak about their experiences.

Cruxton understands that students may feel like they missed their first semester here, and are purposely placed in the same First Year Experience class.

“(The course teaches) how to get connected on campus, how to become parts of different communities and how to make friends” Cruxton said. “It is really tailored to fit the specific needs of these students.”

Cruxton added that in addition to the courses provided from day one, she hopes the students will choose to participate in events hosted by the Office of Global Education for past study abroad students, such as resume writing workshops, and a Florence reunion with Fabrizio Ricciardelli, the director of the Kent State University Florence Center.  

Both students and Cruxton agree that despite the hardships of the first few weeks of re-entry, if given the opportunity all students should study abroad during their time at Kent State.

“I had a different experience than other freshmen, but an incredible one nonetheless,”  Schrock said. “I got to learn a lot about myself, and learn where I would like to be in the world.”

Despite this, some students still feel out of place at the Kent campus.

“I just kind of feel like we’re out here on our own” Munden said.

Madeline Scalzi is the student life and education reporter. Contact her at mscalzi1@kent.edu.