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Caitlin Burke ’21: ‘As a Future Teacher, It Was So Important for Me to Experience Education in a Different Country and Apply My Experience to My Future Classroom’

Caitlin Burke

Program and Location:

Summer, History and Italian Studies in Florence; Florence, Italy


Elementary Education

Why did you choose to study abroad?

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but given my course requirements, I was not able to study abroad for an entire semester. However, I was determined to find a way to study abroad still by going on a summer program. I wanted to study abroad to explore a new culture, experience a different lifestyle, travel, and broaden my educational perspective! As a future teacher, it was so important for me to experience education in a different country and apply my experience to my future classroom!

What did you learn about yourself?

Over the five weeks I spent in Italy, I learned how to be more independent, adaptable, and spontaneous. There was just so much to see and do with so little time, so I learned to seize every opportunity and every moment. I also learned just how much I love to travel, and better yet, I how much I love to organize travel plans. I can’t wait to apply these newly acquired skills to my next adventure!

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

I absolutely loved everything about my program, but if I had to pick my favorite, it would be amount of travel that was included within the program cost. I was able to go to Capri, Venice, Pompeii, Pisa, and so many other amazing cities with the program. It was so nice to travel all over Italy and not have to worry about booking train tickets, hotels, and other accommodations. I can’t wait to go back to my favorite places! Additionally, the amount of support provided from NC State faculty, as well as LdM — my institution in Florence — faculty was far beyond my expectations.

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

Do it! Go! You will not regret it! But once you’re there, take advantage of every opportunity thrown your way, but also make sure to seek out opportunities that aren’t so obvious. It will go by so much faster than you think! Also, make sure to keep a journal or some form of reflection. It is so fun going back and reliving my experiences and reflecting on how much my attitude and perspectives changed over the course of five weeks.

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?

Almost every day we took a field trip, whether that was to a church, museum, piazza, or a single statue. Being able to learn about the Italian Renaissance in Italy, and more specifically, in Florence, was incredible. The entire city was our classroom! My walk to class was full of evidence of the Renaissance, which made class discussions so much more engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed learning outside of the classroom through experiences and observations!

Would you do it again?

I would absolutely love to study abroad again! I am hoping to student teach abroad… stay tuned!

This post was originally published in Study Abroad.