The first semester at college is a big adjustment for most students—living independently, balancing studies and social life, missing family and friends.
Fifteen first-year students in Kent State’s Honors College are also finding their way around a foreign country, learning a new language and dealing with cultural differences. As the first incoming freshmen group to study in Florence, Italy, the “Florence 15” welcome the challenge.
“I still am figuring out how to balance the many factors of my life,” writes Emma Windham (Hartville, Ohio). “But I can’t imagine being in a better place as I learn and grow in this new stage.”
The students take three required classes in Italian language, art, culture and identity, as well as two others based on their interests and academic goals. Fridays are free, leaving long weekends to explore the area and other parts of Europe.
Although Kent State has been educating students in Florence for more than 40 years, “few universities send freshmen abroad,” says Aaron Hanlin, PhD ’16, coordinator of admissions and scholarship for Kent State’s Honors College. “This program adds to the distinctiveness of Kent State University and demonstrates the boldness of our students.”
Even having travel plans go awry—like missing their connecting train back to Florence after a weekend away—are teachable moments. “It forced our group to figure things out when everything goes wrong,” Windham writes. “We had to be independent and go with the flow!”