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Student Reports: Clint Epperson, Florence, Italy, 2009

Clint Epperson, senior in Mechanical Engineering, spent the summer of 2009 in Italy. He was studying Art History and Intercultural Communication at Lorenco de Medici University in Florence.

“I liked Art History class because we would go to the class for half of the period and to a church or museum in Florence for the other half. We saw the work of many famous artists like Michelangelo. In intercultural communication class we talked about how people from different cultures interact, how there can be miscommunication but also good communication. Our professor would also take us into the city to see interesting aspects of the culture that you wouldn’t usually see as a tourist,” Clint said.

Besides classes, Clint had the chance to enjoy hiking and traveling through Italy.

“One weekend we went to Positano, Sorrento, and Capri. Positano is a small town on the beach in southern Italy and has a steep descent of a mountain going down into the sea. It was cool to see how people lived there – all their houses are stacked on the mountain side. The beach there was great, too. It was different from the beaches in Florida, the only kind of beach I was familiar with. There was no sand, just rocks. Capri is a small island, just off the coast that has a lot of little squares and restaurants. I also got to see Pompeii – it was interesting to see all the ruins that had been preserved since the Mt. Vesuvius erupted.”

Clint’s favorite place in Italy was Cinque Terre, a place which consists of five little towns spread out 9-10 miles on the coast northwest of Pisa. He enjoyed hiking from one town to another through the mountainous area.

“All these small mountains are coming down to the sea and the town is built on the side of them. They have vineyards and between the towns there are terraces. It was a really beautiful area! We started the hike in the first town on the first day, stayed in the third town overnight, then went to the fourth and fifth the next day. The third town was built on rocks that jutted out to the sea – it was amazing to see. The last town that we went to was on the beach. It was nice to finish the hike by going to a beach.”

However going to Italy does not mean that you have to be far from home.

“We went in Sorrento, southern Italy, for July 4th. As the city had a lot of American tourists at the time some people were shooting fireworks for July 4th. It was interesting to see.”

Clint said that Italy had its differences with America but also its similarities.

“The similar things are that they have a good amount of American pop culture there. The difference is in how they live their daily. People usually walk to wherever they’re going. There are more cafes and restaurants, a lot more of a social atmosphere. It was also interesting to see so many ancient buildings around in a modern city and just how the city was laid out differently from an American city.”

The study aboard program made Clint more confident about living in a foreign city.

“I got the confidence from being able to live in an international place where I don’t speak the language. In my intercultural communications class I saw how cultures communicate and are different. That was helpful to know.

As he intends to do work aboard after he is done with school, Clint plans to integrate the knowledge he gained in intercultural communication to help him with his future job.