Kent State Hospitality Management Students Share What It Is Like to Complete an Internship Abroad

For those wondering what it is like to complete an internship abroad, Kent State University students Brian Yurko and Stephanie Fair, both in the Hospitality Management program, and their professor, Nicoletta Peluffo at Kent State University’s location in Florence, Italy, shared their experiences of interning in Italy during this past summer. You can view the Hospitality Management students’ full experiences on their internship blog at http://kentstateselite8.wix.com/elite8.

Yurko, 22, from Macedonia, Ohio, interned at Eataly Firenze, a food-centered property containing two restaurants, a café and a market in Florence. Fair, 22, from Grove City, Ohio, interned at Reale Firenze, a tapas bar in Florence offering coffee, tapas, grilled items, beer and cocktails. Peluffo, a professor and on-site language coordinator at Kent State Florence, helped Kent State students find appropriate intern opportunities; acted as liaison between the students, the properties and the College of Education, Health and Human Services; assisted students in their daily activities, in particular their working activities; taught a course based on lectures and field trips; and organized trips, such as visits to museums, tastings and more.

Kent State University students who interned in Florence, Italy, over the summer and two Kent State Florence staff members visit the Duomo di Milano.Culture and Travel

Fair: I realized how relaxing and slow-paced Europe is compared to how fast-paced America is. From dining to just personality, nobody was ever in a rush, and people just took their time and enjoyed life. It was different adjusting to a slower pace, and it has been difficult to adjust back to fast pace in the United States. Italians were so nice and patient, and especially our bosses who knew we did not speak Italian well.

Yurko: I was surprised by how different the culture is in Florence than at home. It is crazy to think that ways of life according to Italians are vastly different than the American way of life. Whether it is dining, socializing, the way they dress or the way they work, everything is entirely different than the way Americans do it.

Fair: I traveled to Paris, Amsterdam, Spain, Rome, Pisa and Castiglioncello. I worked Friday through Sunday and traveled on my days off. I only wished I had more time to travel more. We stayed mostly in Airbnbs, and everyone was very nice.

Internship Experience

Fair: We would meet with Nicoletta once a week and had free range to talk about anything, whether we had an issue with our internship, needed advice on how and where to travel, or places to eat. She would always help us. We also took this time to plan our field trips (Milan, pizza making, gelato making, Tuscan winery, museum visits, etc.). I absolutely loved knowing we had Nicoletta within arm’s reach, and she made me feel so welcome from the first day meeting her.

Peluffo: The Hospitality Management students were very focused on their work experience, and they helped the properties improve some of their weaknesses, in particular in communication and social media, as some of them worked on websites and Instagram.

Challenges

Fair: Being in a foreign city with people you barely know was a major experience that impacted me. I think being able to navigate around the city by myself was a rewarding moment. I loved my co-workers and was so happy when they opened up to us, and we all became really good friends.

Yurko: The most challenging aspect of studying abroad was the language barrier. We took Elementary Italian I the semester before we left for Florence, but that was not enough experience to have conversations with Italian customers.

Peluffo: The students understood the differences in culture and work approach, and they overcame the language barrier. They were very positive and reacted positively to all the problems they met in their workplace or in their daily life. Also, they appreciated all of the initiatives I proposed, and they had lots of ideas and contributed new proposals, as well.

Advice to Students

Yurko: My advice to students who may want to intern in Florence would be to learn as much Italian as they can before they leave. Also, go in with an open mind and an adventurous heart. Europe is a completely different atmosphere than the United States, and you should not hesitate to experience new things. Being in hospitality, employers absolutely love someone who is adventurous, creative and outgoing. What better way to expand your horizons than to intern and live in a completely different part of the world!

For more information about Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services, visit www.kent.edu/ehhs.

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