Florence and the Distinct Academic Environment

In Florence, the only primary business course I am taking is international finance, but the class itself is much broader and covers a wider range of topics than the typical finance class I find at Pitt. The class talks about exchange rates, investing in other counties, how different stock exchanges and banks work around the world, and how common finance phrases learned in classes in America (fisher effect, interest rate parity) apply abroad. This class is very interesting, and the professor does a great job applying everything he teaches to real-life examples to better aid the learning process. I am also taking Italian 1, where I am learning basic and useful phrases in Italian, as well as verb conjugation which helps me in everyday life here in Italy. I am taking cross-cultural psychology, a class based on pointing out the differences between cultures in America and Italy. Finally, I am taking renaissance art history, and in this class, we explore museums and churches and learn about the art in said locations, and I have learned a lot.


   In this academic environment, the ability to stay focused for the entire 2 ½ courses is the most useful skill, in my opinion. Following the covid pandemic and the implementation of online school, I have found that my attention span when it comes to classes has been significantly shortened. So, with this in mind, the classes here in Italy have almost healed what Covid broke; by this, I mean that I am finally learning to engage for long periods, and my attention span has become much longer. It is also important to ask questions while in class, as there is a lot of content being taught in one session, and engagement is of the most importance.

           As a Learner, my most prevalent Clifton Strength, I have found that this is the exact right environment for me. I am curious, open-minded, and passionate, and with the opportunity to study more creative-based classes (as well as experiencing what I learn in class firsthand through museums), I am really engaging with my identity as Learner. It seems that there is always more to see in Italy, more to experience, more to learn, and my brain is basking in the opportunities.


    I am finding it very interesting to be studying with students from a vast variety of different universities; I study with students from Lehigh, the University of Massachusetts, Purdue, and many more. The study habits of students from different colleges are cool to notice and think about. In my Italian class, where everyone is a Pitt student, there is maybe more of a familiarity. But in my other classes, the environment is more individualistic; however, on class breaks, everyone is incredibly kind and it’s nice to get to know people from different places.  

           There are a lot of differences between my classes in Italy and those at Pitt, and I welcome them wholeheartedly. I am incredibly blessed to be able to experience all that I am and to write about it so I can look back again one day and remember what a unique and special time this semester was.