Hospitality Major Sees the World at Kent State Florence
"Studying and traveling abroad has impacted my life in ways I never really thought it would and I never would have been able to have such opportunities or experiences if I did not go abroad."
Recognizing its global obligations, Kent State University actively encourages its students to undertake international education experiences. The university not only offers numerous opportunities to students to study abroad, but many options as well, including the timing to go abroad, the length of stay, the various countries to visit, and the available program and classes of study.
One Kent State student who has discovered the benefits of a globally-focused course of study is Hunter Mowen, who has twice studied abroad. Enriched by her many experiences overseas, Hunter is now an advocate for study abroad and is eager to share her stories about life and learning in a foreign land. She hopes that by sharing her stories, other students might be inspired to study abroad and travel internationally.
Hunter is currently a fifth year student majoring in Hospitality Management. During the 2016 spring semester, Hunter attended classes at Kent State’s Florence Center for the first time. Over the past summer, Hunter returned to Florence where she become involved the Florence Hospitality Program, while also engaging in an internship with a local hotel.
During her freshman year of college, Hunter was a fashion major, so she often heard other fashion students talking about studying abroad in Italy, an academic endeavor in which she had always been interested. When she switched to a hospitality major a few semesters later, Hunter assumed that there would be no classes in her new major offered abroad. To her surprise, and delight, however, Hunter soon discovered that even with her new major, she was still eligible to study abroad. She immediately started looking into her options and researching the programs offered.
Although Florence was initially not her first preference as a location for study abroad, Hunter quickly fell in love with the city and all the wonderful food, people and places there. During her first semester in Florence, Hunter took general core courses which enabled here to work toward completing her degree.
In addition to her coursework, Hunter also focused on traveling throughout Europe as much as possible. During her first trip to Florence, she traveled nearly every weekend during the semester. Throughout her second visit to Florence, “it was a lot different,” Hunter explained. “This time I had to be at my internship every day and I was additionally taking online classes.”
Despite her busy schedule, Hunter still found time to travel. “Between my two trips abroad, I traveled to about 13 different countries. I was able to visit Switzerland, the French Riviera, Budapest and so many other places. Also, since I was abroad for the spring and summer, I ended up visiting some places, like Switzerland, during the different seasons. An advantage of being abroad during different seasons is that I had the opportunity to actually go to events that were occurring in the cities. For instance, I had the opportunity to see the Monaco Grand Prix and I was in France during the Cannes Film Festival.”
Hunter thought that adapting to a new and different lifestyle was the most challenging difficulty she faced abroad. “For example, over in Europe you had to rely on public transportation and there is a lot of walking. Amenities as a whole were a lot different, too. Most people over there do not have dryers for their clothes and many places do not have air conditioners. Also, in most places, you have to pay for public restrooms. I still found myself transitioning quickly, partially because you have to, since you are living there, but after that short transition, living there becomes much easier.”
“The most rewarding part of studying abroad is that you get to meet people from all over the world and learn about history in a new way. For instance, I visited a concentration camp and my perspective was instantly changed, all of a sudden history became so much more real. I was also able to visit the Vatican twice and that was an absolutely amazing experience. I had always heard about it or seen a picture, but it was crazy to think that I was actually there.”
“When I was in Florence the second time and working on my internship,” Hunter continues, “every day I was able to interact with people of so many different cultures and we were able to share our various experiences with one another. I met numerous people there that were so intrigued to hear about my adventures and what it was like to be an American studying in their country.”
“Because we do have our own campus in Florence, it makes the transition that much easier. Since Kent State had an existing community there with staff and professors, the experience is more rewarding and fun. The professors in Florence are also amazing. They are always willing to work with you if you have any problems.”
Hunter credits her semesters in Florence as times of personal growth and maturity, as well as providing her with new perspectives and outlooks not only about herself, but other peoples and cultures as well. “I highly encourage others to study and travel abroad because you don’t know your limits or how far out of your comfort zone you will go until you are actually outside of that comfort zone. Studying and traveling abroad has impacted my life in ways I never really thought it would and I never would have been able to have such opportunities or experiences if I did not go abroad. By living abroad and going through that drastic transition with other students, you make great connections with people and it is astounding how so many people I met abroad have impacted my life. As a community we were also able to motivate one another and encourage each other to always work toward reaching that ‘something higher’ goal.”