Studying the Renaissance in the Birthplace of the Renaissance

Ciao from Florence! It is week three of my classes here at GBI Florence, and I could not be happier with everything that I am learning. My school, CAPA, offers many courses that offer lecture-style and experiential-learning components. I am a finance major, but I am thrilled to continue to branch out of my comfort zone.

This Fall semester, I am taking 4 academic courses for a total of 13 credits. My classes are Renaissance Art History, Elementary Italian 1, Interculture and Migration, and Beginner Figurative Sculpture. I decided to take all non-business courses because I completed all of my business requirements, and I have my PittBusiness foreign culture general education requirement to complete. Although it was intimidating to take all humanities courses as a business student, I could not pass up the opportunity to study these topics in the birthplace of the Renaissance.

In this academic environment, there are a few key characteristics needed to be successful. One of the biggest traits is openness. I believe that in a new culture, true immersion occurs when one becomes okay with discomfort. I want to embrace attempting new things at the risk of being embarrassed or being incorrect. Whether it is mispronouncing words in my Italian course or molding the wrong structure in my Sculpture class, I have learned that having the courage to be unsure can be the best way to learn.

I am excited to continue to build upon this realization throughout the semester and upon my December graduation. I know that intentionally immersing myself and adjusting to a new culture will teach me skills I can use for the rest of my personal and professional life.

A view of the Duomo from the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte. The class took a bus to visit the basilica as part of our Renaissance Art History course.

Learning about my personal strengths as a Pitt Business student is important to helping me adjust to studying abroad. My Clifton Strengths are Harmony, Restorative, Input, Developer, and Connectedness. The strengths of “Developer,” “Harmony,” and “Connectedness” refer to my enjoyment of being dedicated to progression, getting along with others, and creating synergies via interpersonal connection. The “Input” strength indicates my fascination with the world’s complexities, and the “Restorative” strength shows my love of problem-solving.

These strengths demonstrate that I am primarily relationship-oriented and enjoy the challenge of addressing problems. I know that success may mean leveraging my ability to build a sense of community and strategizing my plan to balance my academic, social, and professional life this semester. 

The academic culture of my classes are both relaxed yet demanding. I have noticed that CAPA really desires its students to have a meaningful experience as a resident of Florence, not just a tourist. I enjoy the fast pace of my history class, the verbally engaging nature of my Italian class, and the critiques of my art in my sculpture class. Outside of class, I have participated in a city walking tour and a gelato tour. Both my classes and these activities have been more engaging and immersive than I initially expected. 

I molded a clay model (right), based on the left sculpture. The sculpture is a replica of Michelangelo’s famous David statue.
One of the only Gothic-style buildings in the entire city of Florence. The Renaissance Art History class took a city walk to view various buildings and learn about their histories.

Being pushed out of my comfort zone to mentally and physically engage with my new city and my academic work reminds me of being a student back in Pittsburgh, which I do miss dearly. However, I really anticipate all of the growth that I will continue to experience this semester. Although my classes and environment are very different from Pittsburgh, I could not be more grateful to study in the GBI Florence program as a Pitt student. Thanks for following along!