Six sophomore art students are spending the spring semester studying in Florence, Italy, to expand their knowledge, explore Europe, and study ancient Italian artwork.
On Jan. 8, art therapy majors Ashley Logar, Sami Faul, Brooke Personius and Kelly Paukovits, along with arts administration major Kristen Draeger and graphic design major Jen Kayy, boarded a plane for Studio Arts Center International (SACI) in Florence, Italy.
However, the first major steps toward studying abroad were taken months ago when these students began the mountain of paperwork necessary to make the dream of studying abroad come true. Each student must first fill out the initial applications for Marywood University and the school abroad at which they intend to study.
David Crisci, associate director of international affairs, said the procedure is very simple.
“There is a basic application asking for emergency contact information, [and] your GPA which needs to be a 2.75 or higher. We ask for a disciplinary clearance, so something gets sent to Amy Paciej’s [Dean of Students] office and then they tell us that there is no disciplinary action being incurred,” said Crisci.
Upon acceptance, each student is required to take a 12-credit minimum course load. This is put into place to ensure that the students are considered full time students by the national standard. The maximum load is 15 credits so this allows students to expand into the foreign culture and breach the walls of a classroom, said Crisci.
At SACI, each student is taking a full course load of 15 credits from a selection of courses including creative writing, intermediate painting, sculpture, high renaissance art history, museology, serigraphy, photography, fresco painting, ceramics and painting conservation.
Ashley Logar said she plans to embrace the European culture by traveling all over Europe during her breaks, paying special attention to Paris and Germany.
“For spring break, a few of my roommates and I are going to Paris. We are also looking into going to Germany and possibly Ireland, if we have enough time,” said Logar.
Aside from traveling, these students are learning much more than just the culture abroad. The students are also experiencing many challenges that they do not face at Marywood. For example, some students do not know any Italian and must learn as they go.
In the classroom, however, the language barrier has no major impact on them, as English-speaking professors teach the majority of courses. Many of the professors are from the United States. One of Logar’s Italian professors also speaks fluent English.
“He is easy to understand. The only barrier with him is explaining who pop icons in America are,” she said.
Although having English-speaking professors helps students to communicate easily and effectively, Crisci wants students to experience some language difficulties.
“I think that is imperative because to really get the most out of your experience you want to be able to try and communicate with people from the country you are in. If you’re just speaking English the whole time, what type of cultural aspect are you going to get?” said Crisci.
Marywood’s mission in the study abroad program is to allow students to fully enjoy the time spent in foreign areas of the world and to learn a new culture, said Crisci.
Logar said she has done just that.
“I would have to say the most important thing is to make sure that you take full advantage of all of the opportunities while you are [studying abroad],” said Logar.