Study abroad in one of the world’s most beautiful cities

Cassandra Adams

Experience Florence’s art, food and culture

Clear blue skies, green hilltops, grand architecture, sparkling water and breathtaking views contribute to the reputation of Florence, Italy, being widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Known by many as the as the art capital of Italy and the heart of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is a place to cultivate interests in art, food, culture, sightseeing and education.

The study abroad program allows Kent State students and non-Kent State students, undergraduate and graduate, to travel to Florence for the fall or spring semesters.

This year, the architecture program hit a record high when 88 percent of students in the program opted to study abroad for the semester, said Maurizio Sabini, associate professor of architecture and environmental design and coordinator of the Florence study abroad program.

The semester-long trip is open to all majors, not just architecture students.

Students attend classes taught by locally hired faculty and attend weekend field trips, and they are encouraged to travel across Europe in their free time.

Tuition to take the classes is the same price as Kent State courses, but the price for room, food, program fees and expenses differ, allowing a real immersion into the culture, Sabini said.

While the lack of barbecue sauce and peanut butter could get some grumbling, the nightclubs staying open until 5 a.m. may overshadow the small inconveniences.

Students’ good opinions of the trip experience are as strong as Italian espresso.

“The experience is amazing, no price tag will suffice. Learning first hand and on site, here in the capital of renaissance art is a crucial experience for any designer… It is an architectural Mecca of sort, a necessary pilgrimage for students of all art dialects,” said Jamie Farrell, a senior architecture major currently spending spring semester in Florence.

“I feel like a whole other person from the experience,” said Whitney Valerio, senior interior design major.

Valerio, who had arranged to live with four students she knew before the trip last spring, got a surprise after a room mix-up left her sharing an apartment with seven people she had “never even talked to before.”

Valerio said she was thankful for the confusion, allowing her to open up to people she wouldn’t have otherwise, and now considers them good friends.

Tim Magner, senior architecture major who studied abroad in Florence last spring, agreed that he definitely saw himself in a new light after being in Florence, although he didn’t have too much trouble slipping into the Italian way of life.

“You are a tourist for the first month — until the second month, then you are walking head down, with headphones to class, just like at Kent,” Magner said.

The fall semester lasts from mid-August to mid-December, and the spring semester lasts from January to early-May.

“Kent State and the administration should be recognized for providing such a great opportunity for KSU students,” Sabini said.

Contact features correspondent Cassandra Adams at [email protected].