The Intercultural Communication course is an extremely stimulating mix of lectures, out-of-classroom activities, audiovisual materials, and guest speakers. Professor Francesca Passeri, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable member of the ISI Florence faculty, gets students thinking and keeps them thoroughly engaged during the three-hour-long class. Thus far into the semester, we have looked at a variety of different subjects concerning communication. For example, we learned about stereotypes, food, and sports and how each of these topics can be used as a means of intercultural communication. We have also learned about the idea of acceptance, how to immerse oneself in a new culture in order to understand it, and how to effectively communicate with someone who may have completely different values and traditions. I am currently studying Psychology and Neuroscience and these fields both require the ability to communicate appropriately and effectively about topics that are not usually easy to talk about, such as mental health and trauma. People from different cultures do not always express such personal experiences to a stranger, so learning how to adequately and emotionally connect with a person in such a way that makes them feel heard and understood is extremely valuable.
The added value of this course is that it takes place abroad. Going to school in another country is extremely jarring at first and it took some time for me to adjust, but I enjoy Florence now. Compared to home, I would say the pace at which we learn is more relaxed and enjoyable. This is not to say that the courses are not challenging or rigorous, but rather it speaks to the true nature of the Italian culture of leisure and pleasure rather than fast-paced and stressful environments. It is also interesting in terms of our surroundings. On campus, I am limited to just my campus and other college students but here, all of Florence is my campus and I get to learn by just exploring the city during class tours. While it was hard to adjust to this new setting at first, this course helped me familiarize myself with Italian culture, how people communicate, and how people live their daily lives.
Laura Campos, UMD