An architecture graduate student traveled to Florence, Italy to see historical architecture and other countries

Becky Smith

Joel Levis, far left, stands near the Leaning Tower of Pisa with fellow architecture students in 2005. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOEL LEVIS

Credit: DKS Editors

Since his freshman year at Kent State, Joel Levis, architecture graduate student, heard about the Florence Semester study abroad program. He said his architecture professors and fellow classmates encouraged all architecture students to consider the Florence program.

“The program seemed like a great opportunity,” Levis said. “But at the time it also seemed like the thing to do because so many students participated.”

Levis said about 75 percent of architecture students go to Florence.

In Spring 2005, Levis set out on his journey to Florence, Italy, to study Italian architecture and also to learn about other cultures. Levis said he didn’t know how great of an impact his experience would have on him.

“Being in a different culture made me a little more sensitive of what it is like for other people around the world,” he said. “As an architect, I received a broader perspective on how things are done.”

While in Florence, Levis and a few friends shared an apartment and took 18 hours of classes. He said in their free time, they traveled throughout Europe, including to the countries of Greece, Switzerland, England and Germany.

“It was cool to see places that I’ve seen in books and in movies,” Levis said. “To see them in person was really amazing.”

Levis said being away from friends and family was difficult for him, but he and his classmates were on their own most of the time and he learned independence from his study abroad experience.

“In some ways, it felt like I was putting my life on hold,” he said.

But he also said he has no regrets in his decision to study in Florence.

“I’ve always been interested in historical architecture, and it was just exciting to be in a place as old as Florence,” Levis said. “My experience has made me more open to learning new things and has made me aware of things I typically wouldn’t be aware of.”

Contact international affairs and regional campuses reporter Becky Smith at [email protected].