The Beginning of a Life-Changing Experience

This semester, two CCI students will be sharing their experiences studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Follow them on their journey as they deal with culture shock, language barriers, and a total lifestyle change.

By Samantha Meisenburg ’18


It has officially been one week since I’ve arrived in Italy and I still don’t believe I’m here. I’ve had a passion for traveling since high school. Now, it is finally my time to leave the states.

I got my passport when I was 19-years-old, expecting to go to Canada, but that hasn’t happened yet. Once I held that government official document in my hand for the first time, I was obsessed. The travel bug bite me hard and left a constant itch of the great unknown. A world filled with postcard worthy scenery, monuments, culture and food was waiting for me.

Coming to Kent State has allowed me to begin filling my passport with stamps, my phone with photos that one can only dream of taking and my soul with a perspective on how to live from the influences of another culture.

Before school started, my friends and I walked past the Duomo, a church sitting in the middle of Florence, on the daily. Every time we saw it, we would take a couple seconds, be in the moment and appreciate this breathtaking, exquisitely detailed-oriented building. We have been exploring all over Florence, still in awe of the architecture before us.

Going without wifi (unless in my apartment or school) is a great technology cleanse. You’re with your friends and surrounded by such beauty, it’s refreshing not seeing everyone glued to their phone. It allows people to live in the moment.

I am still adjusting to this new way of life. A concrete jungle of cobblestone makes up the city of Florence and I have yet to see a patch of grass. I traded in Uber rides for a comfortable yet fashionable pair of sneakers because everyone walks here. Pathways that you think are only used as sidewalks are actually used for both walking and driving. So far, Florence has been just as cold as Kent and Florence was actually colder the first couple days I was here.

My daily commute to Kent State University, Florence edition, is luckily only a three-minute walk. A little piece of the states is still present because Subway and McDonalds are across the street from the school, but I have yet to indulge in a burger or footlong. Classes are interesting and intimate, with only 10 to 20 people per class. Communicating with professors is a unique experience because as they are speaking English to you, you are trying to speak Italian to them.

I’m excited and anxious for this semester. Although I’m 5,000 miles away, I’ve already found my home away from home in my roommates and classmates. We are all sharing this experience together, immersing ourselves in the language and culture, and understanding a way of life that is different from our ours. This semester in Florence is a great beginning to 2017.

Which Starbucks Drink Are You Based On Your Major?

by Taylor Meade, ‘17

At CCI, some students power through a lot of coffee…or at least some Starbucks specialty drinks. With its convenient location near Franklin Hall and the pop-up locations on campus in the Center for Undergraduate Excellence and the Library, you can probably spot CCI students nearby. When it comes to completing projects, presentations and the occasional test, Starbucks is our key to success.


Communication Studies
You’re traditional black coffee. You can do a lot with your major. With six areas of concentration, students have the opportunity to study anything from interpersonal communication to global communication. The room you have to specialize is like the room you leave in black coffee for milk, sugar or even pumps of vanilla or caramel.

You’re a Doubleshot on Ice or a White Chocolate Mocha with an extra espresso shot (or two). You need to be wide awake. Whether you’re up late trying to catch breaking news with The Kent Stater, anchoring first thing in the morning on TV2 or just trying to get the right shot for the cover of A Magazine, a little extra espresso might help get the best coverage.

Public Relations
You’re a Latte Macchiato. You need enough espresso to get through that case study but not so much that you post ten exclamation points while live tweeting with PRSSA. Whether you’re finishing a campaign, press release or last-minute packing for National Conference, a little coffee will go a long way.

You’re either one of Starbucks fresh fruit smoothies or an Evolution Fresh™ drink. Although these aren’t V8+Energy’s, they’re a close second. These Starbucks drinks will give you just enough energy to kick butt in the Collegiate Effie Awards and still have time for Franklin Advertising.

Digital Media Production
You’re a Frappuccino. It’s important to keep “cool” when out filming the next fashion show or local high school football game with TeleProductions. And just like the people anxiously waiting for the right temperature outside to drink a Frappuccino, DMP majors are anxiously waiting for the next KSUIF feature-length film to begin production.

VCD and Photography
You’re a Chai Latte. (Did you know there’s a version with extra espresso on the secret menu?) When you spend all night in the studio, the next afternoon you’re going to need a pick-me-up to get through the day. In fact, with sophomore and junior reviews, just grab a couple of friends and order the Starbucks Coffee Traveler (or just drink it all yourself) and get to work!


Sharing Thoughts About KSU Diversity Conference in Florence

by Latisha Ellison

file1.jpegKent State University’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Global Education hosted “Comparing Diversities Conference” at KSU’s Florence campus in Italy December 1 and 2.

The two-day conference explored themes like diversity, identity and equality from both an American and European perspective. The conference brought scholars from America and Europe to explore and debate these themes.

Being a student abroad in Florence this semester, I had the pleasure of attending the conference and meeting some of the speakers. Retired Northern New Mexico College’s president Nancy “Rusty” Barcelló, spoke about identity and joined the student session to listen to our discussion about the conference. Barcelló reminded us that identity is important and it’s important to know who you are in order to effect change.

Being a biracial woman of color living in the United States, I have had my fair share of identity crises in my short 21 years, but talking with Barcelló reinforced my determination to understand my identity. By understanding who I am and acknowledging the privileges I still have, only then will I be able to make a difference. Diversity is personal for me, just like so many of the American speakers at the conference. This isn’t the case for Europeans and the European speakers. When Europeans think about diversity, they think about people who speak different languages or have different cultures. It’s just not as personal as it is in America.

In America, we have a murky history of how our country was founded: by oppression and degradation of people of color. Our history is one of the reasons diversity in America is blatant and talked about. In Europe, the history among countries is pretty similar therefore; its form of diversity is in terms of language, cultural and ethnicities, and while race is one of America’s main forms of diversity, race isn’t even a concept in Europe. Sometimes we like to forget about the past, but knowing our past and our history is the key to understanding why our country operates the way it does.

During our student discussion led by Giorgio Ridolfi and Andy Wyatt, student assistants at KSU Florence, Ridolfi, who is from Florence, told us that there is diversity among Italians geographically. Northern Italians are different than southern Italians, so much so, that if he were to visit Sicily, he might not understand the people there because their dialect is much different than Florentine’s.

It was interesting to hear that, which made me think about how the US is also different geographically. The north is different than the south, and the west coast is different than the east coast. Different parts of our country have different dialects and customs typical to said region, but I don’t think we think about those differences all that often.

file.jpegI think the three big takeaways from the conference were: understand the past, continue open dialogue and look toward the future. We have to acknowledge that we have made great strides in diversity in the United States, while at the same time acknowledging that there is still more work to be done. One of the ways to continue making a difference is to stay educated and be willing to learn more and stand up in the face of injustice. Creating a space, like the conference, provides the perfect opportunity to have an open, honest dialogue about diversity and how we can continue to do better. With all that being said, Kent State students and young people all across the world are the future. It is up to us to follow the work that has been done and improve upon it to make sure that everyone is included and treated equally.

The conference came at the perfect time when tensions are running high in the United States and it’s looking a lot less united than we thought. I think it was eye-opening for everyone in attendance. We were all able to understand a little bit more about each other and our role in accepting diversity.

Thank You, Florence


This semester, two CCI students will be sharing their experiences studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Follow them on their journey as they deal with culture shock, language barriers, and a total lifestyle change.

By Latisha Ellison 

It’s hard to believe that my time in Florence is almost over, how did four months go by so fast? People had always told me that studying abroad would change my life, and I always wondered if would really do that for me, but it did. In the past four months I have gained more independence, confidence and a greater appreciation for life just by studying abroad.

As young adults in college, we all gain some independence just by leaving the house and living on a college campus, but when that campus is an ocean away, that independence amplifies tenfold. I have tackled minor challenges like figuring out how to flush the toilet to bigger ones like navigating the Barcelona Metro. I know that if I was able to figure those out, I’ll definitely be able to finally figure out the PARTA Bus at Kent!  From surviving an intense two-hour hike in Cinque Terre to losing my phone in Barcelona, being abroad has given me more confidence to handle any challenge that life throws at me.

Traveling has been a surreal experience because on one hand, I couldn’t believe I was actually in these amazing places and on the other, I was so incredibly grateful to be there and tried to enjoy every minute. It’s so easy to take your life for granted and even when you think you have it bad, you have to remember that your worst day might be someone’s best day. I have three nephews and a niece, so I have a huge soft spot for babies and children anywhere.

I was brought to tears when I was walking the streets of Paris and saw a family with two little boys, probably four and six, sitting on a mattress—they were homeless. In that moment all I could think about were my little ones back home and wonder why I had been given the opportunity to see the world, but these little boys might not know what they’re eating for breakfast. It wasn’t fair, it still isn’t fair; however, I think I was given the opportunity to explore the world in order to realize that I have a bigger purpose here. I am a citizen of the world and that means doing what I can to help those around me.

I have already donated to charities I care about, but that’s not enough. When I get back to the states I want to be more involved in actually creating change; thankfully, being a public relations major means I can do just that! I’ve never cared so much about politics or current events until I came over here and couldn’t be at home to fully do my part. I’m thankful for the past four months because it has been the greatest learning experience I have ever had. I think I always had a little fire inside that wanted to do more, but Florence has ignited the flame.

Final Thoughts From A Life Changing Experience


This semester, two CCI students will be sharing their experiences studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Follow them on their journey as they deal with culture shock, language barriers, and a total lifestyle change.

By Charleah Trombitas  

As my time in Florence winds down, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the experience.  It has been the quickest and most amazing four months of my life and I have learned so much about myself. Taking a step out of your comfort zone in such a large way, like living in another country, pushes you to realize how strong you truly are. On the first day in Florence I was so worried about being able to figure everything out and make it through the next four months.

Though exploring a new country on your own with your friends may not be the same thing as an internship or class, it teaches you to solve problems and make quick decisions. I never realized how independent I could be until I was on my own in another country. I gained confidence in knowing I could take care of whatever life was going to throw at me. I got sick in Italy and then I found the doctor and went through the process of getting medicine.

I had business that needed taken care of in America and I figured out how to get everything sorted out from Italy. I dealt with everything that came my way and still managed to have the best four months I could have imagined.

Studying abroad, for me, has been a constant push and pull. Though I’m living and taking classes in Italy, I still have family, friends, and responsibilities in America. Tying in my current life with my life at home was, at times, challenging. The time difference and things like the shaky Wi-Fi were a hindrance. Beyond trying to keep up with both of my lives, I have spent time on trying to connect them.

From the day I left, I knew my trip had a time stamp. Instead of being sad I would have to leave, I tried to imprint in my mind how I felt in a certain moment or how I dealt with a problem. Those are things, no matter where I am, that will continue to change my life forever. I have been grateful to enjoy such an amazing experience in Florence and all over Europe and I will be bringing home a lot more than souvenirs.

CCI Commons Partners With Teleproductions to Create New Video

thumb_IMG_7433_1024.jpgThe CCI Commons is working with Teleproductions to produce a new video for their website. Recently, producer and junior DMP major S’Reane Parks hosted a focus group to gain insight from current residents and students. They gave insightful feedback on the existing video and helped brainstorm ideas for the new one. Students also expressed interest in appearing in the new video and helping during the production stages. Look for the completed video in April on the CCI Commons website:

What I’m Thankful For

By Hana Barkowitz


At this point in my life, there is nothing I’m not thankful for. I do know, however, that this might be too cliche. I’ll focus on one very big, important thing I’m extremely grateful right now: my education.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a middle class family in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. The school district where I attended preschool through 12th grade is one of the best public school districts in Pennsylvania and held high expectations for their students. I did not understand how lucky I was for an education like that until I graduated and found out how prepared I was for college. That was the expectation after you graduated- you go to college. It was rare and unusual if people didn’t.

And now, two and a half years later at Kent State, I am realizing how so lucky I am to have the means and support to attend higher education. I’m growing. I’m learning in and out of the classroom. I’ve met beautiful people: New friends, great professors, amazing administration, and I am learning from them.

Opportunities have been thrown my way that I would have never received if I didn’t come here. I am have developed my critical thinking skills to a whole new level that I never thought I would reach.

I am especially grateful because I feel like the world would be a better place if everybody was educated. Studies show that this would be the case. Especially after recent events in the United States, every US citizen could use a little bit more of some comprehensive education. Of course, this is unrealistic. But I am grateful that I am learning how to educate my peers on a person to person level. Similarly, I am learning how to listen to my peers so that I can learn from them.

It’s truly beautiful to have an open mind. Happy Thanksgiving.

BY students FOR students in the College of Communication and Information at Kent State