Study abroad in Florence

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In spring 2015, from April 2 to June 12, students have an opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy.  This quarter, the trip is geared towards communications studies. Two courses are offered, CMST2102, Interpersonal Communications, and CMST220, Public Speaking. Although the courses offered are communications, study abroad courses are for everybody. Students attending are also required to take an Italian language and culture class, which “is taught by qualified local guest lecturers, focusing on historical, political, economic and cultural aspects of contemporary Italy.”

According to Bellevue College’s study abroad coordinator, Li Liu, “I think this is a good fit for people on a community college level when most of them are still undecided and they want to explore, so the courses incorporated in the Florence program is usually geared towards arts and humanities area.”

“The instructor will teach a public speaking class in which they will incorporate lots of exposure and experience, experiential learning opportunities for the crafting of the speech. The persuasive speech will be a speech for policy change, of how to better protect the historical and cultural heritage in Florence. Students will be walking around the ruins and talk to local officials and then put together a speech of policy change. I’m a public speaking instructor myself, so I looked at the description and I thought this is really exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

In addition to the public speaking related courses, students will have other activities, such as going to museums, visiting areas around Florence and a day trip to Siena. Other activities are included in the program, with activities such as “walking tours, traditional cooking classes, wine tasting lectures, ballet, soccer matches, concerts and more.” Students are given museum passes with unlimited access to the “Uffizi Gallery, Accademia, Bargello, Pitti Palace, San Marco Museum and Medici Chapel.”

Liu is new to the role of study abroad coordinator, but is excited to make study abroad programs more accessible to students. “This is part of my commitment and my passion, is to really make this experience more accessible to a lot of other people and we know that this is going to be an exciting experience for pretty much everybody, but it’s just – they always come with really high price tags. They have the transportation, airfare, hotel and all that adds up to a big sum of money, so one way students can make this more affordable is to get started with the application process as early as possible, to come in to talk to me and they can discuss with their financial aid office on campus to figure out to which extent they can apply the financial aid that’s available to them towards the cost of the program,” said Liu.

In addition to financial aid, there are other outside scholarships students can apply for, such as the Gilman scholarship. The Gilman scholarship “is particularly reserved for students who are going to an overseas location to pursue a study abroad opportunity.”  It is a competitive process and involves an essay, there’s a better chance the scholarship can be obtained by applying as soon as possible. Chances are especially good when applying to less popular destinations. “If you want to go to South Africa, you will probably have a better chance, compared with somebody going to London.” Scholarship amounts have varied from 1,000 dollars to upwards of 5,000.

Students interested in applying for study abroad should contact Li Liu in R230P as soon as possible.

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