Psychology Major Has Lifechanging Experience Studying Abroad in Florence

Wearing a dark green Florence shirt, Rocco Grassi reflects on his time studying abroad in Italy: “You learn a lot more about who you are and how your life is. It's really cool to go to another country and get to experience their lives and how they act and how they do things, and they kind of become a part of you.” 

He continues, “you have your whole foundation in your whole life, like in one country, and then you go to another one and it doesn't change anything, it just adds on. You learn things and you add on things, and that kind of becomes a piece of you.”

Rocco, who is a psychology major and business minor (but might be adding a second major following the experience abroad), attended the Florence Summer Institute, participating in both the June and July sessions. Although he had visited Italy with family before when he got to see the towns where his family is from, Rocco explains that studying abroad gave him a much better opportunity to understand the culture and how the locals live. With Italian neighbors in his apartment building in the heart of the city, students “start to do the day-to-day things that other people do,” he says. “Like every morning, I would get a long shot of espresso and a pastry at the same café.”

In classes, Rocco had the opportunity to physically experience what he was learning about, from seeing sculptures and paintings in person to touring places that were affected by the black plague while learning about its history. He also traveled to Monte Carlo for the Storytelling in Tuscany course, where he and his classmates walked the red carpet and met actors at a television festival. On top of photos and celebrity memories, Rocco left Monaco with an internship opportunity and will spend next summer in Los Angeles working with a film crew. He enjoyed the experience so much, he is also considering adding a journalism major. Nevertheless, Rocco couldn’t pick a favorite course he took in Florence: “Honestly, they all were so unique and what they brought to the course that it's hard to differentiate and be like, ‘oh, this one’s my favorite’.” 

To be fair, Rocco’s whole time in Italy was so special that pointing out only one or two things had to be difficult. He watched an emotional horse race in nearby Siena and danced around at the Piazzale Michelangelo late at night on weekends in Florence. “People would just be playing guitar and everyone's dancing around, it's just a bunch of strangers sharing a moment, which is so cool,” he describes.

Because of that, now he has a lot of wisdom to share:  “It's a really beautiful thing to go to another country and I think living in the moment is the most important part of it all, because you'll be home eventually, everything you're stressing about that's back at home is gonna be waiting for you, so don't worry about it. You're in another country. Enjoy it. Go see things, go experience things. Go meet people you know. Dance with strangers. Do what makes you happy because you're only there for so long.” 

Interested in having an experience like Rocco's? Learn more about the Florence Summer Institute.

Rocco in Siena during the Palio horse race. Rocco is with three other people from Kent State.
POSTED: Tuesday, November 14, 2023 02:32 PM
Updated: Monday, July 8, 2024 01:03 PM
WRITTEN BY:
NATASHA WOLWACZ HEINZ, GRADUATE INTERN FOR EDUCATION ABROAD