Studying abroad has been the biggest learning period of my life so far. I remember back to the beginning of the fall and the application process where I was trying to figure out the courses I would take, the requirements I would satisfy and the courses I found interesting. While abroad I ended up taking Italian, Ethics, Globalization and Social Change, and lastly the History of the Medici Women. All of these courses satisfied a requirement and they all seemed interesting to me, so I set out to learn all these different topics.
Ethics was one my favorites courses partly because of the professor I had, but also because of its content. It brought up so many difficult deep-thinking topics that I never considered before and made me view the world and people in a different light. I found it extremely fascinating and was happy to learn so much in such a short period of time.
My globalization and social change class was different for me because as a science major I never take classes like this. We learned so much about world economies, corporations, the capitalist systems we live in, which were all new to me. I learned so much about the current economic events in the world and how through their connection to globalization they impact the world. This was a field where I lacked common knowledge but was eager to learn more about which proved to be very beneficial and exciting.
Italian and the History of the Medici Women where my last two courses but they were different than the other ones because their lessons were seen and applied during my everyday life in Italy. I took Italian twice a week and learned the basic Italian language that I would use or hear every day.
Towards the end of the semester I could go and order something completely in Italian or be able to have a conversation with someone which I thought was amazing. I could read and understand signs or people’s conversations. With this class the learning never stopped, no matter what I was doing I would be applying the material I learned everyday with the local people. I was constantly learning through the use of language and by watching and living through their culture and cultural norms.
Living in Florence had a different feel than most places students travel abroad in because it’s a city built by strong and powerful families. This idea is constantly reinforced wherever you are in Florence and one of the most prominent families in Florence where the Medici. Taking a course that studied the family and mostly the women in the family ended up being dramatically more interesting and educational than I had expected. Going through the family tree learning about all their contributions to build the city, foster art and culture, and become politically powerful blew me away.
They started off as merchants and bankers and ended their dynasty as Grand Dukes and Duchesses. They had built or remodeled a total of three castles (one of their many houses in Europe) that proudly still stand in Florence today. Their wealth and power are portrayed through the massive and exquisite collection of buildings and art that they have bequeathed to Florence. It’s virtually impossible to not see their presence (even now) in the streets. This past week I was able to visit the Uffizi which is currently a museum that houses a majority of their art collections which they acquired through the years.
Once again, I was astonished at their wealth and power during their time that ranged from 1434- 1743. They are responsible for the famous Vasari corridor as well as protecting Michelangelo as an artist who made them many works of arts including the statue of David which stood in the entryway of their home.
Learning about the Medici as well as other prominent families of their time gave me a different appreciation and understanding of the history of Florence. Through this course, it finally made sense why certain building, squares, streets were named after these families. Almost all of the buildings in the city proudly displayed the coat of arms of different families which was such a unique aspect to see firsthand.
Looking back I realized that the way I learned during this semester was not just by schooling but also through living and applying the materials I learned every day. It has completely changed the way I view and interact with the environment around me, something I feel like I don’t do in the U.S. Through this experience I was offered a completely different way of learning that I will keep with me as I move forward and will cherish forever.