KSU study abroad students remember quieter life in Italy

Lauren Carll

Imagine ancient architecture, a crisp morning breeze, a hot cup of coffee and a quick glance at the new Chanel window display during a mere 10-minute walk to class.

Students at Kent State would only experience this in a dream, but fashion students who studied abroad in Florence, Italy, saw this every day.

“We were living in the heart of it all,” said Alison Trangenstein, a junior who is double-majoring in fashion design and fashion merchandising.

Trangenstein said living in Italy was completely different from living in Kent.

“Italy is much more laid-back than the States,” she said. “The Italians walk so much slower and take their time with everything. We could show up to class 10 minutes late and our professor wouldn’t even be there yet.”

Maddy Janchar, junior fashion merchandising major, said the relaxed atmosphere applied in the classroom as well.

“The classes were much more laid-back,” Janchar said. “The teachers are definitely more difficult in Kent.”

Trangenstein said not only was the classroom different, but so was the everyday way of life.

“We would seriously walk up seven flights of stairs just to get groceries,” she said. “In Italy, there are no stores like Wal-Mart where you can get everything in one stop. If you needed shampoo and paper, you’d have to go to two different stores.”

Elizabeth Davic, associate professor and coordinator of the Kent State Florence Fashion Program, said she has been working with the study abroad program for six years and enjoys working with the students.

“I really enjoy being able to share the experiences of all of the students that have gone in the past and help the new study abroad students be prepared when their time comes,” Davic said. “It’s great to be there with them and watch them grow throughout the semester.”

Trangenstein said she missed her friends and family while away in Italy, but the experience helped her grow as an individual.

“You have to grow up a lot and learn to deal with things,” she said. “My friends and I would get lost with no cell phones on us, and we would say, ‘OK, we can do this’ and figure it out on our own.”

Janchar said it was difficult to adjust to life in Italy, but it took time to adjust back to life in Kent, too.

“I was so used to the laid-back classes and the traveling, that I kind of forgot how fast-paced life was in Kent,” she said. “It’s going to take some time to get used to living here again.”

Studying abroad next year? Heed this advice.

Davic said studying abroad helps students make new friends and become more independent. She said it also helps students become eager to do well in the work force.

“Being there (in Italy) isn’t what makes you more competitive,” she said. “It’s what you do with it afterward that makes you stand out.”

Davic said she is a strong advocate for the study abroad program, and she encourages students to take a step beyond what is “normal.”

“Do something different,” she said. “Try something new that can expand your horizons forever.”

Travel tips

• Pack a variety of clothes for warm and cold weather.

(tank tops, shorts, jeans, sweaters, coats, flip-flops and warm boots)

• Bring a laptop computer if you want Internet access in your apartment since the only computer lab is in the school building.

• Bring a separate carrying case for plane tickets, passport, etc. to make traveling easier and more organized.

Tips courtesy of Alison Trangenstein and Maddy Janchar

Contact fashion reporter Lauren Carll at [email protected].