When I came to Florence, I knew I was going to be doing a great deal of learning inside the classroom. As an art major, I expected to learn everything there is to learn about the extensive art history based in this area. What I didn’t take into consideration was how much I would learn outside of the classroom as well.
I’ve heard of active learning before, but because I grew up in a small town, I mostly associated that concept with doing activities or projects rather than reading from a textbook. Here in Florence, active learning is taken to a whole other level. In just the first few days alone, I went on two walking tours, had my first five-course Italian meal, and learned how to taste wine at the Castello de Verrazzano in the heart of the Chianti region. If that’s not actively learning about the culture, then I’m not sure what is.
CEA provides an abundance of educational and cultural activities in order for students to really get acclimated with their new host country. When we learn about things that pertain to Florence, whether it be a famous work of art or a historical building, we are able to see the real thing in person rather than a picture in a book or online. I can’t find words to explain the feeling I got when our professor showed us a carving by Michelangelo located on the façade of the Palazzo Vecchio.
That aspect of studying abroad alone is invaluable and amazing.
The Global Campus is located in the very heart of Florence in the Piazza della Repubblica, so even walking down the street can be a learning experience. This is a prime place for people watching and it allows you to get a glimpse of what Italian life is really like. If you’re looking to get even more involved with the culture, CEA offers opportunities to do things like take a cooking class or volunteer around the city. This can allow you to work directly with Italians and learn things that only they can teach you. I took a cooking class and learned how to whip up a batch of fresh, authentic gnocchi from a few very charismatic Italians. Not only was it one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in Florence, but it was an experience I will never forget.
In just two short months, I feel as though I’ve actively learned about and experienced so many new things that I would never have been able to gain from a textbook or online. It’s truly amazing to see things in person that I’ve been learning about my entire life. I can’t wait to see what the next two months have in store!
Loren Benton is the CEA MOJO currently studying abroad this Spring 2012 semester in Florence, Italy
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