Conversations on Studying Abroad

The Variety of Classes That Piqued My Interest in Florence

Jun 28, 2022 10:15:00 AM / by Chris Reidy

As a business student, Chris took the opportunity while abroad to attend classes that were outside of his major and field. These were the classes that piqued his interest and what he learned from them in Florence.

A part of my abroad experience that I didn’t anticipate on being so impactful was a part of studying abroad that a lot of people overlook, which is the actual academic aspect. When in a foreign country, traveling most weekends and trying to do as much as possible in the three and a half months we had, it’s easy to plan on giving your classes a little less prominence compared to your plans next weekend. However, from my experience and many others I’ve spoken to, some of the greatest complements to being in Florence were being able to take the classes we did.

The entrance to the CAPA Florence center

Caption: The entrance to the CAPA Florence center.

Back in the US, I am a business student. For the past three and half years, exempt one history class I took in the fall, all of my classes have been in the business school. It’s the career I chose, but it was and will continue to be a very draining experience with the lack of diversity I’ve chosen for my courses. I think this feeling is rather common, especially with my specific grade having got sent home halfway through our second semester of college due to the pandemic. I hadn’t even completed five classes before I was moved online for a year and a half, unable to ignite any interest in exploring other fields let alone staying interested in my chosen one while on zoom. The one beacon of hope I had in my four-year planner was the open gen ed courses I had for spring 2022, when I planned on going abroad.

My favorite part of the CAPA building

Caption: My favorite part of the CAPA building.

Signing up for my courses back in December was like a breath of fresh air compared to previous semesters. I luckily did not have to meet any business requirements, so I was able to take whatever piqued my interest. CAPA offered a great variety of classes ranging from all sorts of art, history, and cultural courses, on top of all the other common areas of study. I ended up choosing a food and culture class, the cultural history of Florence, contemporary Italian cinema, and a history of organized crime in Italy. These were four classes I probably would have never taken if I hadn’t gone abroad, and especially not if I wasn’t studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

Taking classes specific to the city and country I was in completely enhanced the way I was able to experience the city. All of my professors were excellent and especially knowledgeable in their fields, great examples being that my film teacher was also a movie critic, and my food and culture professor was a former chef in Florence. Every week I was learning about the food and gastronomy of Tuscany and Italy, taking field trips throughout the city markets and storefronts, and being able to exercise my newly found food prowess when ordering lunch and dinner. I learned about the history of Florence, finding out about events that took place in the very same places I eat lunch or like to study at, understanding how a small Tuscan city laid the foundation for modern society. In my cinema and organized crime classes, I found out about social issues and change going on in Italian culture and society I never would have realized without taking these courses, gaining a deeper perspective on the country I’ve spent so much time in.

POV my walk to class

Caption: POV: my walk to class in Florence.

I loved the classes I decided to take, and the chance to take unique topics I otherwise never would have learned about gave me new perspectives beyond just living in a different country for a semester. My other peers took watercolor and sculpture classes, learned the Italian language, and explored so many other types of courses they probably wouldn’t have taken either if not for studying in Florence. You learn so much going abroad, from living in a new environment, adapting to a new culture, and independently traveling and exploring an entirely new part of the world. Although schoolwork may not sound like the most appealing thing to have on your mind when doing those things, I realized throughout the semester that all of these classes were actually enriching to the experience, and for the first time in quite a few semesters I was able to thoroughly enjoy attending all of my classes throughout the week.

Thanks, Chris!

Chris Reidy

Chris Reidy is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2022, sharing his story in frequent posts on CAPA World. An economics major from University of Miami, he is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

Chris' journey continues all semester so stay tuned.


Topics: International Education, Florence, Italy