Study Abroad with CCI Commons

Every semester, students have the opportunity to study in another country, but not many get to say they can study in another country with their good friends.

Gina Leone, a visual communication design major, Caroline Nirgo, a communication studies major, Melissa Puppo and Taylor Williams, both journalism majors, met in the fall of 2012, their freshman year of college, while living in the CCI Commons in Olson Hall.

Taylor met Melissa and Gina, who were roommates, at the CCI Commons’ annual ice cream social, and she met Caroline later on in the semester. Now, all four girls are studying abroad together in Florence, Italy.

“...From the time we met, we were all very close friends, and we’ve become closer since being in Italy,” Taylor said.

While studying abroad, the girls have learned more about Italian culture and taken trips to Venice, Pompeii and Paris. Each have their own favorite part about being in Florence.

Melissa said she’s enjoying her Italian cooking class, which is offered at In Tavola, an association that provides culinary courses.

“I loved working with the chefs and my friends to make delicious dishes and learn new tricks like how to make pasta from scratch,” Melissa said.

Melissa also said she, Caroline and Taylor saw Beyoncé and Jay Z in Paris during their On the Run tour.

“That was an experience of itself that I will never forget, and how cool is it that I can say I saw them while in Paris?” Melissa said. “It’s amazing!”

Caroline also said she enjoyed Paris, especially the Eiffel Tower.

“It was beautiful all lit up,” Caroline said about the Paris landmark. “A friend of mine told me to go see it right at 10. When it was 10 I left dinner to see it and it started to sparkle. I thought I was dreaming. I just stood there in the park alone taking everything in. It didn’t seem like real life. I wish I could go back again.”

Gina said one of her favorite parts about being in Florence was the hike to Piazzale Michelangelo.

“You climb hundreds of stairs, and when you get to the top, you can see Florence in all its glory,” Gina said. “It made for the best pictures.”

While the girls are making new memories with CCI majors on the other side of the world, Taylor said some parts of Florence remind her of the CCI Commons, specifically the apartment building she and other Kent State students are living in. She said the Kent State students have family dinners and spend time together when they’re not traveling.

“It makes the whole transition to a new country easier because I’m so comfortable, not only with Mel, Caroline and Gina, but also with everyone in the apartment and in the CCI cohort,” Taylor said.

Caroline said she’s glad she lived in Olson Hall because she made friends and fond memories.

“Olson Hall really helped me find out what I want to do for the rest of my life and gave me the chance of a lifetime to study abroad with some of my closest friends,” Caroline said.

Gina said Olson was the best place for her to live during her first two years at Kent State because she made life-long friends, had her first college job and learned how to live on her own.

“It is such a tight-knit community that I really miss, but I have comfort in knowing it continues on,” Gina said.