Addio Pitt. Ciao Firenze!

Ciao!  Mi chiamo Elise Webb and I am a junior at the University of Pittsburgh who is currently working towards a double degree in economics and finance. I decided to simultaneously pursue a business degree alongside my economics degree from the Dietrich School of Arts and Science because I thoroughly enjoy the strategic and analytical thinking that is optimized in the business world. I especially love how broadly applicable the paired degrees can be.

I specifically chose to participate in the Global Business Institute program in Florence this spring semester because of the amazing opportunity it presents. I saw it as an opportunity to sharpen my professional skills and gain meaningful expertise in my field of study while immersing myself into a whole new culture. About eight years ago I traveled to Italy with my family and was fascinated by the people and their lifestyle. I am grateful to be given the chance to spend more time here for an even deeper immersion into Italian everyday life. In the few weeks I have been here I have already been able to explore the the rich history of the Pitti Palace, hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy a three euro cappuccino outside the Duomo.

Another component of this program that drew me in was the unique classes that are offered. One class that I am particularly excited to be taking is my International Economics course. Coming into this program one of my goals for this semester was to gain an understanding on how the economic forces and influences in Italy differ from those in the United States. I want to learn how the business culture is different, and how to apply that to my global business interests. I believe that this class along with the others I am taking will prove to be beneficial in allowing me to further learn about my interests from a global standpoint.

After studying at the CAPA center in Florence for almost three weeks now I have noticed various similarities and differences from Pitt’s own campus. While both institutions teach their courses in English, the professors at CAPA obviously offer a unique Italian perspective to their courses by tying in things like Italian history to their lectures. I also appreciate the differences in the buildings that classes are held in. Unlike the large lecture halls they have at Pitt, the CAPA rooms are similar to Cathy’s nationality rooms. Detailed paintings and maps cover the old walls and giant curtains drape over the windows which creates an intimate and engaging environment.

My apartment in Florence is about a mile walk from the CAPA center. I live with four students from the University of Pittsburgh and three from the University of Indiana. Our apartment is planted in a local area where there are fewer English speakers compared to the more touristy areas. Due to the language barrier this has made some of the easier tasks much more difficult. While common tasks like grocery shopping, going to the post office, or even ordering a meal has been challenging it’s also exactly what I was looking for to have the full experience. I am excited to be pushing myself outside my comfort zone and facing these new situations with the hope of gaining maturity and self- confidence to carry on through my academics and future career. I believe this program gives me an opportunity to not only evolve in my academic skills, but my life skills as well and I am excited for the weeks to come!