The Florentine Academic Experience

In my first month as a study abroad student, I’ve learned a lot both academically and culturally. My typical class schedule runs Monday through Wednesday, with three-hour classes allotted throughout that time. The short school week is perfect for the study abroad experience because I get to explore the city and the rest of Europe in my free time. I love to travel and learn through experiences, so this is ideal for me.

While I am not currently interning through my study abroad program, I have gained a lot of insights from my classes. One of my classes teaches specifically about it culture, cities, and globalization which is an important way for me to gain some global perspective. I’m also taking a drawing class that I normally wouldn’t be able to fit into my schedule back at Pitt, so it’s nice to be able to reconnect with some of my hobbies and interests. My International Marketing class is also super interesting and has taught me practical IMP concepts and a global frame of thinking in terms of business.

In this learning environment, I think it’s really important to have the skill of adaptability, connectedness, self-assurance, and discipline. These are skills I have that I believe have made my transition into Florentine culture and academics successful. In order for me to balance school, culture differences and free time, I’ve needed to have a genuine appreciation for the culture and study abroad experience. It is easy to get caught up in travel outside of class, but it is my passion for learning new things about the culture and my academic discipline that have struck the balance. Being an inclusive person is also a helpful skill, and can allow for you to make a lot of friends and study groups. Self assurance is necessary because you are often self-navigating your study abroad experience, and won’t be in your typical comfort zone surrounded by peers at home. An observation I have found in the professional environment is that they work less hours and the working class seems to be more relaxed. Academics are similar, with more days off on average. Classes are compressed into blocks of time and we normally don’t have class any later than 6. I think it’s important to consider the Italian way of professional life in our own practices in the United States. The prioritization of mental well-being, family time and free time is a vital part of the Italian way of life.