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CGE Storyteller: Cam Breeden | Home vs Abroad – How Academics Compare

Cam Breeden | Spring 2024

Hello! This is Cam Breeden, and I’m super excited to be sharing another blog discussing my time as a study abroad student in Florence, Italy.

I’m just now wrapping up my second week of classes as a student at Lorenzo de’ Medici, and I must admit that these first couple of weeks have blown by fast. I’m happy to say that I’ve been enjoying every minute of it, and I’m doing whatever I can to represent the University of Tennessee in the best way possible. One question that I’ve been asked on numerous occasions by both friends and family members is, “What are the classes like over there compared to back home?” I’ve decided to use this blog post as an opportunity to answer that question, so I’ll be focusing on both the similarities and differences between classes back home at U.T. and classes here in Florence, Italy. 

Beginning with a few similarities, I want to stress the point that studying abroad is not just one long vacation. Just like back home, education is valued highly here in Italy, and all my professors are making sure to hold us to the highest standard. There is some leniency for the first couple days of class regarding the navigation of such a big city and trying to locate your classes on time, but after that, tardiness is no longer tolerated.

As for the classes themselves, the style in which they are taught resembles that of being back home, following along and taking notes as the professor gives their lecture. I was curious as to how the language barrier would affect my ability to understand my professors since English is not their first language, but that has proven to not be a major issue. All my professors have been great when it comes to that, and they encourage students from America to ask questions if at any point we feel like we didn’t understand something that they had said. 

As for the differences, there are several key ones that I would like to point out. If you’re considering studying abroad on the same UT in Florence at Lorenzo de’ Medici program that I am doing now, the first big change that I want to tell you about is that all classes are two and a half hours long. Having been used to mostly 50 minute lectures, adjusting to this worried me at first. However, there is a 15-minute break in the middle for students to get coffee or use the restroom, and if you truly enjoy the courses you’re taking (like I do), then you’ll notice that two and a half hours goes by very quickly.

Another aspect that may take some getting used to is the classrooms themselves. Rather than large lecture halls like we spend a lot of our time in at UT, classrooms here are much smaller and much more beautiful. Studying abroad in such a historic city, all the buildings have a long history of their own, which I find very interesting. Overall, it’s a nice change compared to what I’m used to, and I really look forward to the rest of the semester.

That’s all for now, Ciao!


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