Studying Engineering in Florence

Ciao, my name is John Mazza! I am a junior civil engineering major and studied abroad in Florence in the spring of 2020. The beginning of my abroad experience was incredible because I participated in the Sustainability on Trial Signature Seminar. While on the Seminar, I was able to travel to Norway, Finland and Sweden while getting credit for the class as well. While I was in those countries, I was able to mush huskies, visit a reindeer farm and snowshoe up a glacier! I made so many memories and met so many people on the seminar and I will cherish these moments for the rest of my life.

After the seminar was finished, I began the semester in Florence. When I first settled in with my roommate and host family, they were incredibly welcoming to us. My host family was one of the best experiences that I had in Italy. Although they did not speak a lot of English, we were still able to communicate very well and they were a very nice couple. We ate dinner together every night and the meals were like events (the food was absolutely delicious). I still keep in contact with my host family to this day and I am so glad that I was able to meet them. In addition to my host family, I was able to meet so many people as a result of studying abroad. Many of the people that I met were from all over the world and most of them were students, but I was introduced to such a diverse background of people.

I chose the Florence program because I knew that I wanted to go abroad to Italy and I was able to take my engineering classes there while keeping my same expected graduation date. Studying engineering at the Florence Center  was valuable because I was introduced to a new perspective on engineering courses. There were slight variations in the way we learned engineering concepts which I am grateful for being able to learn in this way. I truly felt like a gained much more knowledge beyond my engineering courses as well.

In addition, I knew that I wanted to go to Italy because I am Italian in heritage and I wanted to spend more time there to truly see the culture which I was able to do in my time there. Many advisors and staff in the Florence center were very helpful when I told them my situation and major so everything worked out perfectly and my questions were never left unanswered. I also knew that studying in a central region of Europe would allow me the experience to travel to many other countries. While I was abroad, I spent time in 9 countries but a few of the highlights were my ski trip to Switzerland and a weekend in Dublin. I skied in Zermatt which was the mountain that my dad skied at during his study abroad program years ago. I also spent a weekend in Dublin and took a day trip to see the cliffs of Moher. These are two of the favorite trips that I have taken in my life and I will remember them forever.

Overall, looking back on my time abroad I can truly say that I had a life changing experience. I was able to gain a new perspective on my culture and the way that I live my life. Seeing how engineering was taught in another country was also very interesting and a valuable skill that not all engineers are exposed to. I want to carry everything that I learned abroad with me and I plan on returning to Europe very soon because it is truly an incredible place. I still have many places to visit on my bucket list so I think that I will be back very soon. I am also deciding on going abroad to get an international MBA after my undergraduate degree is complete so that I can see more of Europe and travel to places that I have never seen before. Arrivederci!

John Mazza ’22

Civil Engineering

Florence Center

Studying abroad: From a dream, to reality

Hi! I’m Shannon and I’m a senior duel majoring in Sociology and Public Relations. I went abroad to Florence in the fall of my junior year and it was by far the best semester of my college career (and probably the best three and a half months of my life!). Ever since I was little, I’ve been in love with the idea of traveling the world. So, when it came time to choose a college, a top-tier study abroad program was number one on my list of requirements. I can say will full confidence that Syracuse was the right choice for exactly that!

Because I’ve always loved traveling, and have always dreamt of study abroad, trying to choose from all the diverse abroad programs offered at Syracuse seemed like an impossible decision for me. I started attending the abroad fairs and talking to my academic advisers about my plans to go abroad the second I got to campus, but when junior year rolled around and it was time to make a decision I still felt overwhelmed. I was torn between the London program because there are some classes offered at the London center that could count toward my Newhouse major, and the Florence program because the opportunity to experience the culture, art, and history of Italy really interested me.

Obviously, I ended up choosing the Florence program, and it’s the best decision I ever made! The language barrier, cultural differences, and chance to live with a host family are some of the aspects of my semester abroad that most challenged me; however, I know that those are also the things that taught me the most about myself, and helped me grow as a person. The language difference and host family experience specifically were aspects of the Florence program that initially scared me and made me seriously consider choosing the London program instead. But, looking back, I wish I could have told myself not to be worried about those things because they’d end up being some of the best parts of my abroad experience!

Being worried about living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and living with a family you’ve never met is perfectly reasonable, and it’s something that almost every student is nervous about before they go abroad. But seriously, take it from an abroad alum, don’t let that fear choose your abroad program for you! You will have an absolutely amazing experience and you’ll look back and laugh at yourself for being so stressed over those things. I’m SO happy I chose to study in Florence, and I know if I had let my fear of the language barrier and living with a host family dictate my experience, I never would have learned or grown as much during my time abroad as I did. At the end of the day, every single abroad program offered at Syracuse is an amazing opportunity to expand your horizons, experience a new culture, and challenge yourself to try new things. You will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience regardless of where you go, so choose the program that speaks to your heart and just take the leap! I promise you won’t regret it.

Shannon Bozman ’20

Florence Center, Fall 2018