Finding Fashion and Freedom in Florence
Study Abroad Allows Emily Larson ’20 to Learn About Foreign Countries and Cultures – and Herself
Growing up, Emily Larson dreamed of traveling to Italy. The food. The fashion. The history and architecture. A chance to visit a place connected to her heritage and important to her family.
She never thought a business university would help make that dream come true.
“Study abroad was not on my radar when searching for colleges,” says Larson. “But I considered it at Bentley because I knew they really encourage it and make the process easy.”
Overseas study is an integral part of the Bentley experience, with more than 80 programs in 25 countries, from intensive one-week trips to semester- or year-long immersions. Once she was accepted to a program in Florence, Larson worked with Bentley’s Cronin Office of International Education to iron out the details of her European adventure.
After arrival, Larson threw herself into Florence. The experience of immersing herself in the city was helped by her Italian language teacher, who grew up there, and the interactive nature of her courses.
“It was a small class, just four of us, and we met every day so we developed a close relationship with our teacher Irene,” says Larson. “She taught us the language but also about Florentine culture and what life is like for a real Italian family. She was kind of a motherly figure for our class.”
Another course covered the Renaissance history of Florence. Nearly every class period, Larson and her classmates walked around the city learning about buildings and churches that had played a part in Italian history for hundreds of years. The program integrated Larson’s Marketing major with coursework about merchandising and marketing that allowed her to explore her passion for fashion.
“I was able to take a Fashion Marketing class that contributes to my major,” she says. “My professor was an Italian woman with years of experience working in international fashion for Target, TJX and other Italian brands.”
When she wasn’t studying, Larson got to know the city during the week and explored elsewhere in Italy and Europe on weekends. The experience gave her a new appreciation for hands-on learning and helped her learn more about herself, too.
“I find myself considering the international perspectives of things, especially business, more than ever before. Being exposed to how products and business differed in places in Europe made me consider how American companies penetrate international markets,” she says. “Most of all, I grew as I gained confidence in myself and my ability to live independently — and to thrive.”