Anne Meringolo is a member of the Class of 2019 majoring in Digital Media at Marist's branch campus in Florence, Italy. She is from Gilette, NJ.
Why did you choose the Marist Florence branch campus?
I choose the Marist Florence Campus because I am a visual learner. Going to the museums, churches, and walking around Florence is the best visual learning experience for all subjects; art, history, architecture, etc. Learning about these places in a book does not have the same effect as going in person. Florence is like a walking museum as well as a great environment for adventurous students.
Describe the learning experience in Florence.
The learning experience in Florence is full immersion. Learning the language, going to museums, talking to locals, and walking around, are ways to immerse yourself in the Italian culture. Learning with Lorenzo de’ Medici is a full immersion as you take field trips to locations that you talk about in class. Learning in Florence does not stop in the classroom because it extends into learning lifestyles. Italian lifestyles and American are slightly different, but picking up on those differences can be beneficial.
What is your favorite class? Why?
My favorite class would be the digital media classes. It is my major, but I also enjoy the creativity it brings out in me. The class is not only working with computers but it is constantly challenging you to create something new, something personal, and something “outside-of-the-box”. The introduction digital media classes have also taught me skills I can use in the future. I am now able to work with software that I previously thought was too complex.
What was your most challenging class in Florence? Why?
My hardest classes are the art classes. Drawing, art history, or the hands-on art like sculpture are challenging for me. These take a lot of time and precision. I have never taken classes in these subjects, and in the beginning, it was hard for me to understand the concepts. However, after a semester I clearly understand the process and have a further appreciation for hands-on art as well as art history.
What is your favorite place in Florence? Why?
My favorite in Florence to relax is Piazzale Michelangelo because it has a great view, and watching the sunset at night is a great experience. There are also people who play music there that add to the great environment. However, my favorite place to eat is Bistrot La Capannina and Pizzeria SPERA. These places, in my opinion, are where you can find some of the best pasta and pizza in Florence.
Where have you traveled and where do you plan on traveling during your time in Italy?
Last year, as an FFE I traveled to England, France, The Netherlands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland. In Italy, I went to Cortona, Venice, Pisa, Verona, Milan, Cinque Terre, and Tuscania. It was very tiring, and I actually would recommend going fewer places but spending more time in each one. As a sophomore, I learned from my prior traveling experiences and went to Palermo, Ferrara, Naples, and Bologna. I felt as though I did not experience Florence or Italy as much as I should have after studying here for a year.
What is the most interesting difference between Florence and your home country?
I think the most interesting difference would be the lifestyles. In Florence, or Italy in general, there is not a sense of rushing. You take your time to eat; it is rare to see Italians eating on the street or taking a coffee to go. Italy has a slower routine than in the states. They enjoy what they eat and drink. It can be frustrating at first, but once you adjust, time in Italy can seem infinite.
How do you stay connected with home?
I use Whatsapp to communicate with my family. They have free calls, messaging, and video calling. I also use Skype for video calling. Facebook is a good communication for friends.
How did the faculty and staff support you during your time in Florence?
The faculty at Lorenzo de’ Medici is extremely welcoming. They try to incorporate details in their lessons about Italian cultures. For example in my fashion course, the teacher not only talked about the fashion basics but talked about Italian fashion and what you would never see an Italian wear. These are interesting aspects to the class because it teaches us about things outside of the classroom. I think the faculty does a great job of applying what we learn to the “real world”. Whether it is through field trips, lectures, or projects, what we learn can be connected to “real life” situations.
What advice would you give to a prospective student considering the Florence branch campus?
I recommend coming to Florence if you are willing to be open to new things, and have a sense of adventure. Florence is a very small city, but there is so much to discover. You can find hidden places everyday. I advise to talk to locals and make new friends in Florence. Branching out of your friend group will allow you to learn the culture and customs of Florence. In regards to traveling, I recommend staying at one place for a long time rather than going to cities for two days or three. In this case you see the main points of the city but know little about the lifestyles and culture.
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Class of 2019
Major: Digital Media
Academic School: Communication and the Arts