Florence study-abroad program offers full Italian experience

Updated 4 years ago Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - This spring 17 students and two faculty members from Marshall University's College of Arts and Media will journey more than 4,000 miles to immerse themselves in Italy's rich history and culture for three weeks.

This is the fifth year for the Florence program and, although the place stays the same, the students and faculty change, making for a different experience every year. Natalie Larsen, assistant professor of art and design and one of the two faculty members spearheading this year's trip, said Florence is unique to artists because of the city's continued effect on the art world.

"Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance," Larsen said. "And the influence of that is still seen everywhere in Western art and civilization."

Larsen said the trip gives students the opportunity to see in person what they study at Marshall.

"Seeing work in a book and seeing it in person in the context of a city like Florence are two very different experiences," Larsen said. "It opens the students' minds to a different way of thinking about the world and art."

Outside of the classroom, students in the May 11 - May 31 program will be free to experience a true Italian immersion, each residing in several apartments throughout the city with a mix of students and local community members.

Belinda Mullins, a senior photography major planning to take the upcoming trip, said anyone who has the opportunity to study abroad should take it.

"This is an excellent, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Mullins said. "It is important that we don't limit ourselves to the people and cultures within our immediate grasp."

Every year students from a variety of disciplines take advantage of the many study abroad programs offered by the university, according to Ryan Warner, coordinator of Study Abroad and Global Engagement with Marshall University. Warner said about 80 students will be studying abroad and nine faculty members will be teaching abroad this year.

"Students really mature when they go abroad," Warner said. "When students go out and experience a different culture, it really opens their eyes so they can grow as people and students."

Larsen said she wants students from the Florence trip to return home excited about art and traveling.

"I hope they come back wanting to experience more of the world," Larsen said. "I hope they look for ways to make that happen."

This year the college has awarded each student a $1,500 scholarship to use toward the cost of the trip. Additional scholarships were available from CAPA International Education, the company that sponsors the program.

The Florence program holds a price tag nearing $4,200 for three-credit hours and $4,368 for six-credit hours. The cost includes tuition, housing, ground transportation from Rome to Florence and a Florence Museum pass, as well as 24-hour support services and medical and travel insurance provided by CAPA.


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