Category Archives: Study Abroad

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.

Communication Studies Senior Leaves Her Mark at Kent, Across the World

by Maggie Wachtel

Greece1Communication studies major Amanda Bevington is taking the world – and Kent State – by storm.

A senior concentrating in interpersonal communication from Solon, Ohio, Bevington recently visited Greece as part of a gender and sexuality course through the College of Arts and Sciences. While there, Bevington met with LGBTQ activists and members of the Starfish Foundation, a nonprofit offering aid to refugees in Molyvos, Greece.

“It was great to meet activists and to learn more about the Starfish Foundation and the refugee crisis from their point of view,” Bevington said.

Bevington has been incredibly involved in extracurricular activities at Kent State throughout her college career. She has been a Flash Guide Orientation Leader, a Resident Assistant, President of the Kent State Student Ambassadors, Senator in Undergraduate Student Government and a member of Chi-Omega.

Bevington’s involvement earned her the titles of Kent State University Homecoming Queen last fall and Student Leader of the Year at Kent State’s CSI Awards. The Student Leader of the Year award recognizes students who have contributed significantly to the leadership of the organizations they are involved in.

“I have learned to believe in myself in my time at Kent State while also finding my purpose and my passion,” Bevington said.

Bevington’s travels are far from over. This summer, she plans to travel to Nicaragua and Ecuador with Kent State’s Office of Experimental Education and Civic Engagement. She will work with nonprofits from both countries to help their citizens become better leaders within their community.Greece7

“This is the first ever international global service learning trip. I have been waiting for a trip like this [my] entire time at Kent State, so I am super excited,” Bevington said.

After coming home from her travels, Bevington will return to Kent State to earn her master’s in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel. She always knew she wanted to pursue a graduate degree; it was just a matter of where she would get it. It was the strength of Kent State’s program that helped her make her decision. Oh, and she also thinks Kent State is the best place in the world.

“I came into college with no self-confidence,” Bevington said. “I am leaving knowing I can accomplish anything with my determination and persistence.”

19 American Things Worth Missing While Studying Abroad in Florence

by Morgan Barba

Studying abroad is one of the most gratifying and humbling experiences we college students can brave through. There isn’t a moment that goes by when we aren’t faced with challenges in communication, direction, classes, but the worst of all? Sometimes we miss American things, like…

  1. Walking at a normal (fast) pace.
  2. AIR CONDITIONING. For all you Fall abroad-ers, Florence is molto caldo in August, and I bet your apartments retain heat like no other.
  3. American food. Bagels, Cheetos, ranch dressing, peanut butter, french fries that aren’t served to you in a 1950s diner with a statue of Elvis in the front.
  4. Cars that aren’t mini. Where are the Suburbans? Hummers? Anyone?
  5. Cars that don’t actively try to maim you as you walk along the street.
  6. Wifi that actually works.
  7. Understanding measurement systems.
  8. Drinking your morning coffee “the American way”: to go.
  9. Streets that aren’t filled with urine at all times.
  10. Ice in your water. If you’re into that sorta thing.
  11. Dressing down (sweats in public) every once in a while.
  12. Being surrounded by locals who don’t dedicate their lives to selling you a selfie stick or bouquet of roses.
  13. Your own bed.
  14. Free bathrooms, free refills. ’Nuff said.
  15. Not lighting your wallet on fire for a four-month-long pyro-fest.
  16. Judging your commute to class based on how far away it is, and not how many tourist herds you’ll have to hurdle.
  17. American breakfast. Newsflash: croissants aren’t filling.
  18. Punctuality. Because meeting an Italian at 12 means maybe 12:30…or so.
  19. Sitting still. While la bella di niente (the art of doing nothing) is a big part of Italian culture, you hardly have time in those precious four months. Between cultural classes, exploring, weekend travel, and field trips, there isn’t much time to really relax. But your brain will thank you for it.

But every second of missing whatever it is you’ve missed is so completely worth it. Studying abroad is about trading in what you’re accustomed to and reaching for something more, something different. It’s about stretching your comfort zone and ultimately making you unstoppable. So, sure, sometimes you’ll miss Dairy Queen Blizzards so much it hurts, but you’ll gain a newfound affection for gelato.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Things You Probably Did While Studying Abroad In Florence With CCI, Explained By Dogs

by Morgan Barba

If you’ve studied abroad in Florence, Italy, with CCI, you probably…

…could speak un può italiano to the American students you met at clubs.

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…did this every minute of every sweaty day when you arrived in August.

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…understood that “O” is much, much more than just a letter.

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…wanted a ride on a vespa SO BAD.

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…went to Italian “movie nights” just to hang out with Tina.

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…finally mastered walking on cobblestone with *minimal* tripping.

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…got way more homework than you thought you would.

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…never took a shower with a temperature above semi-sorta-warm.

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…had war flashbacks anytime you see someone selling selfie stick or bouquet of roses.

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…never had enough wifi to talk on the phone with your family.

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…had been kindly “invited” somewhere by Fabio Corsini.

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…obnoxiously yelled andiamo every time you wanted to leave a place.

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…had eaten gusta pizza at least twice in one week.

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…got way too excited when Netflix came to Italy last October.

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…felt like this when you hear people say they are “ready” to go home.

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Gifs courtesy of giphy.com.

CCI Study Abroad Stories of Impact: Marissa Decker

by Amanda Azzarelli

-1Alumna Marissa Decker made the most of her travel abroad opportunities, and it paid off.

Decker spent the fall semester of her junior year in Florence, Italy, in 2011.  She also enrolled in the Global Advertising and Public Relations course in Spring 2011, and traveled with the class to London, England, for two weeks.

After returning home from her trip to London, Decker landed an internship with dgCommunications Group, an ad agency in southern Florida.  The owner of this agency used to live in London and is originally from South America.

“I believe being well rounded globally helped me land the job,” Decker said.  “I felt extremely confident in myself while explaining my work with Global Ad/PR, and taking a job in southern Florida felt like a breeze compared to a semester in Europe.”

As an intern, some of Decker’s responsibilities included creative work, like designing logos and product proofs.  She also did client work, including organizing photo shoots and contacting vendors.

After graduating in December 2013, Decker was offered a freelance job with dgCommunications Group.  She now designs the weekly grocery savers for a client in the Cayman Islands.

“Being open to a challenge is something I learned immensely while traveling,” Decker said. “I viewed the experience in Florence as a challenge to myself to meet new people, experience different cultures, and find my niche in life. Being able to adapt to each challenge, project and client has made my efficiency in and love for this job grow.”

Decker said the language barrier was not the biggest challenge in her study abroad experiences, having taken four years of Italian throughout high school and an additional course the semester before she left.

“The entire semester was filled with planning different trips,” Decker said.  “What was most challenging for me was letting go of that anxiety if something went awry. After a semester of learning to let go of the reigns and enjoy the experience, I felt much more at ease with traveling and becoming that independent, optimistic person I hoped to become.”

Decker said these experiences contributed to her organizational skills.  She created her own photography business while continuing her freelance work with dgCommunications Group. She said she must to be organized in her projects and plans to keep everything running smoothly.

“Another lesson I learned, and still continue to use to this day, was how much I value the relationships I made,” Decker said.  “Being able to communicate effectively really helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin.”

Decker encourages all students to consider studying abroad.  She said immersing yourself in a new culture and being a part of a life completely different from your own helps you learn a lot about yourself.

“It is an experience that grows with you, even after you return home,” Decker said.