Studying a semester abroad has always been something Marist has had a large reputation for. What becomes new about this program, is that a four-year curriculum for a Marist Degree, specifically in Florence, Italy has been created. When asking students who have experienced a semester or a year in Florence, they have many insights on what this program entails.
Junior, David Zambuto, who spent his freshman year in the “Freshman Florence Experience” program, is definitely aware of the new plans. “I have heard about it, and I know with former President Murray that this involves a new four-year degree to study art history, I know President Murray’s wife initiated the program.”
The Florence experience is almost a little loop within Marist, because clearly these students hear more rumors or truths about the latest of what Florence offers. Because each abroad student has their own individual experiences, this particular idea may catch the ears of more students than others.
In terms of who the program would attract most David says, “people who love art and travel. The cultural background/emphasis in Europe looks towards appreciating beauty and a step-down from the busy working lives in American Society.” This experience is clearly something highly unique, because as David pointed out, the European lifestyle is a much different pace than American lifestyle.
Coming back to America may be something much harder and not even desired after a study abroad experience. For this reason, the program is actually geared more towards European students rather than Americans. These particular students who live in Europe are able to receive a full Marist degree strictly in their own continent.
Given the idea that this would entail such a large time spent in Italy, it would be interesting to understand if students would have a much harder time returning to America or their home country. Simply after one year David says, “I went through reverse culture shock and found it difficult to integrate into American Society especially at Marist.” “I almost transferred to another school with working, interning and finding a major that would be ideal fro my career.” This idea of transferring is actually something quite common for the FFE student’s mindset. The experience abroad is clearly nothing close to what its like back here on campus.
Senior Juliana Pokorny, who spent her junior Fall semester abroad, had similar feelings when returning when she told me, “ It was extremely weird coming back and jumping right back into Marist life. I would say I couldn’t adjust fully for at least 1 month, it just was such a rare experience in Italy that it was almost depressing coming back.”
Clearly with these students feedback, and my own personal experience in Florence, the idea of a four-year program truly makes you wonder how it’s going to influence student’s professional desires for the rest of their life. This new program also clearly makes Marist’s reputation stand out, even more in its cultural desires. Once this program begins, it’s going to be interesting to see what demographic four years of study in Florence will attract the most.