I Franceschi

Students arriving at our ACCENT Florence Study Center are bound to run into “i Franceschi,” our dynamic duo of Programs Coordinators, Francesca Pannozzo and Francesco Lavanga. For today’s post, we asked them to share their experiences studying abroad and their advice for students making the transition to a whole new culture.

 

1. How long have you been working for ACCENT?

Francesco

Francesca

I have been working for ACCENT since January 2017.

I have been working here for 6 months (since March 2017.)

 

2. Which aspect about American students struck you the most?

Francesco

Francesca

Their willingness to learn and their effort to get the most from their study abroad experience.

How open they are towards diversity.

 

3. What makes a study abroad experience successful?

Francesco

Francesca

When you learn as much as you can academically and as a human being.

When you learn more about a country, about yourself, and about how to make new friends in a non-familiar environment.

4. Did you ever study abroad?

Francesco

Francesca

Yes, I studied in Nottingham (UK) for one year and eventually got a degree as an Interior Designer.

Yes, I did a one-year Erasmus program in Brussels, Belgium. A few years later I spent 4 months in Plymouth (UK) for an internship at an international education organization.

 

5. Did you experience cultural shock during your time studying abroad?

Francesco

Francesca

I absolutely did. Going to a new place where people speak a different language that I did not know much was challenging. At first, I had some trouble getting used to new customs.

I did find it more challenging in the UK than in Belgium. This may be due to the fact that my English was very poor in comparison with my French. When I first arrived in Belgium I was already fluent in the language, which obviously helped me a lot.

 

6. What role did communication play during your time abroad?

Francesco

Francesca

When I was feeling down, I used to go around the city to socialize with people. It helps a lot when you are abroad to join a community rather than just being a foreigner. In general, new experiences of any kind help because you get boosted by new emotions and feelings.

By starting a conversation with my housemates on how to manage shared spaces and cleaning shifts we were able to mitigate different habits of tidying up.

 

7. What was the most challenging part of your study abroad experience?

Francesco

Francesca

The most challenging part was the language barrier. When I got there, I did not know any English words and it was hard to communicate with people.

The language barrier made it difficult, at times, to express nuances in communication. I was very sensitive to this because I realized that it could lead to misunderstandings.

 

8. What would you suggest to students newly enrolled in a study abroad program?

Francesco

Francesca

To set goals and priorities before departure and to get information about the place they are traveling to. Learning some bits of the local language before leaving would be helpful as well.

To smile, because they are going to experience one of the most exciting adventures of their lives!

9. And to students who have just come back?

Francesco

Francesca

Relax first! Then begin to think about the real meaning of the whole trip, in terms of what was learned, not just from an academic point of view but also as a human being.

To smile twice: once when they feel nostalgia for the host country; and secondly when they feel the relief of being back home, because there is nothing wrong with being happy to be at home again, and this doesn’t change what they have learned from the experience.

 

10. What did you get from your study abroad experience?

Francesco

Francesca

I was a young guy when I left my hometown, but when I came back I was a new man. During my study abroad experience I learned lots of new things, met new friends, and felt new emotions. My life totally and positively changed after this experience.

It taught me a lot—I barely know where to start. Because of the need to be brave, and learning to act without hesitation, I can state that my experiences abroad have been the most educational in all my life.

Did this post inspire you to study abroad? Use the ACCENT Program Finder to discover your next great adventure: http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.

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