Going abroad: One student, 21 countries


Photo courtesy of Sarah Cahn

Felicia Guadagni

Around the world in 80 days — almost.

Sarah Cahn, senior fashion merchandising major, traveled to 11 countries during her study abroad trip to Florence, Italy, last spring semester adding to the 80 percent of fashion students who participate in the Fashion School’s study away programs.

Cahn, a self-proclaimed “wanderlust”, now tallies her travels to 21 countries and four continents. During the semester, she traveled to: Switzerland, London, England, Gibraltar, Morocco, Spain, Berlin, Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, France, Croatia, Brussels and Belgium.

But her experience abroad did not only consist of glamorous jet setting and tourism in ancient cities, Cahn said adjusting to the Italian way of life and different teaching styles was difficult.

“In Italy, the concept of time is a lot more relaxed than it is in the United States,” Cahn said. “Also, their style of teaching was a lot different than American teachers. They didn’t give study guides and the class was a lot more opinion-based, which was harder for me.”

Cahn elaborated on the differences between the course load while abroad compared to the course load while at Kent State, saying the homework was much lighter and the focus was more on experiential learning.

“The teachers understood that you were there to travel in addition to school. One class was even a travel class—we went to Milan and Rome with the course,” Cahn said.

Constantly traveling took some adjusting. Cahn explained that sometimes she would return from a mini-trip to another country only to turn around and leave for another a few days later. However, she said the ability to travel so easily while abroad was a huge benefit of the study abroad experience. It sparked a desire within her to explore more of her home country.

“Studying abroad also made me more inquisitive about the United States. I was born and raised here, but I’ve been to more countries than states, so I definitely want to travel more within the U.S.,” Cahn said.

One thing Cahn didn’t find much difficulty with was living on a different continent than the rest of her family. Kent State is six hours away from her hometown of Glen Rock, New Jersey, so homesickness wasn’t an issue.

However, Cahn said the difference in time zones sometimes made it hard to communicate with her loved ones.

Sarah’s younger brother Louis, 15, said he missed his sister while she was abroad, but was more prepared for it because of her being away at college throughout the year. Sarah’s mom, Jennifer, said she missed her daughter while she was abroad, but used technology in order to communicate with her.

Cahn’s friends and family didn’t witness an inherent change in her personality following her semester abroad, but agree the benefits of the trip included reinforcing her independence and giving her a better outlook on cultural diversity throughout the world.

Dylan Rzepka, senior architecture major, who studied abroad with Cahn in Florence, Italy, said, “The biggest benefit has to be a broader understanding of cultures, languages and food. Mostly food.”

Felicia Guadagni is the fashion reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].