European Dreams

Theresa Edwards

Students study abroad in order to gain worldly perspective

While in Florence, Italy, last semester, Thieret visited the Arno River.

Credit: Jason Hall

Elizabeth Thieret, junior fashion merchandising major, visited the Cattedrale in Florence, Italy, while studying abroad last semester.

Credit: Jason Hall

Students such as Elizabeth Thieret and Allison Mazzon decided to study abroad strictly for the academic and cultural aspect. But Daniel Sprockett wanted to meet his family.

The senior biology major recognized the academic potential at Leicester in England when his advisor told him it has a prestigious genetics program, but knowing his grandmother grew up in England sparked a curiosity. He felt it was an awesome opportunity for both family and school.

Sprockett found pamphlets in the Honors college which informed him about the different programs Leicester offered.

When he met his great uncle, who still lives in England, he said he felt very welcome. He said it wasn’t hard to adjust either because his grandmother grew up there and helped prepare him for the trip.

“The cultures aren’t that different,” he said. “It’s mainly just the little things.”

His favorite part about the trip was the excitement and waking up every day in a new place. He also said he likes that travel is easy.

Junior fashion major Thieret agrees that the trip was culturally enriching. She found out about the study abroad program through Kent State’s fashion design and merchandising program. She found materials on the Web and pamphlets around the school that helped her make her decision.

She decided to go because she thought it would be a unique experience.

The language barrier was hard to adjust to, she said, but because Florence is a university city and many people speak English, people were pleasant as long as she tried to speak Italian.

Two semesters of the Italian language served as preparation for her trip.

Shopping was difficult for her as well.

“In America we’re used to having things in excess. Over there they don’t have the big chain stores like Wal-Mart and Target where you can get everything at once,” she said.

Though she liked the cultural aspect of the trip, she also learned a lot about herself.

“You really understand how things work such as traveling and organizing your time because you really have to be independent and self-sufficient,” she said. “I feel more self-sufficient.”

She found that when she got back to the United States, she wanted to dress differently because Italy is where all of the new fashion trends come out. She said it made her feel more creative and innovative.

Mazzon, also a junior fashion major, had a similar experience. She also went with the fashion design and merchandising program to Florence, Italy. While there, she got to tour factories and design shops.

She said studying abroad was marketed with the fashion program, and she’s been looking forward to it since she was a senior in high school.

“We got to see a lot more production and I learned a lot more about that,” she said. “I definitely have a better grasp of the industry that I will be working for.”

While moving to a different country is a difficult transition, it is also a rewarding experience.

“It was hard at first. You’re taken out of your element, out of everything you know,” said Thieret. “Once you adjust, you learn to enjoy the experience and appreciate everything that’s around you.”

Contact features reporter Theresa Edwards at [email protected].