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Student Success Stories

Rediscovering Her Art

Jennifer Taylor ’17 (Art) studied abroad in Florence, Italy at the Florence University of the Arts (FUA) in spring 2016. As an art major, Jennifer viewed Florence or Firenze as a dream study abroad location. As a polyglot, she saw Firenze as an opportunity to try out another language. She recounts, “When I first arrived, I felt a little out of place. But I knew a little Italian, which got me to the right meeting point, and I felt better immediately.”

In Firenze, Jennifer quickly discovered that Italians view art very differently than Americans. Italian masterpieces mark major milestones in their culture, and artistic works are integrated into the fabric of Italians’ everyday lives.

At FUA, she enjoyed considerable independence in creating her own works. As she explains, “We had to draw or paint everyday, but we were able to choose our subjects. No class ever became boring because there were so many variations of one project. I stopped viewing my sketchbook as a long homework assignment and viewed it as something I wanted to fill rather than finish.” With this approach, her art flourished. “I noticed more improvement in three months than I had had in three semesters,” she explains.

Prior to leaving for Italy, Jennifer never thought that study abroad was possible. However, with funding from a Lighthouse study abroad grant, she studied art for an entire semester in Firenze. Italy became her home. In her words, “I never wanted to leave Firenze because it felt like home, my own home. It wasn't a place where my family settled. It was somewhere that I ventured out to find, and I fell in love with it.”