Comments from the participants
Semester in Florence

Tyler Brown, Natalie Schuldes, Dan Moylan

Studying in Florence was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I completely fell in love with the city and the culture, and everyday I wish I was back living ‘la dolce vita.’ I met so many amazing people during my travels and made such incredible lifelong connections. Green Bay, Wisconsin may be my true home but Florence will always be ‘home’ in my heart.

You both gave us such an amazing experience, one that was definitely the most defining point in my life thus far. . . . I treasure my time with you and the city every day and eagerly await my return to la dolce vita and my beloved Fiorentina.    Natalie Schuldes (2007)

Ciao Carl and Patricia,
I wanted to say thank you again for leading the program. It was undoubtedly the best experience of my college career. I want to go back.  Il Pugno, Dan [Moylan] (2007)

Florence gave me the opportunity to start fresh somewhere else, though it is not that I ever disliked the American life that I left behind. But that is almost what I did - I left that life behind for one semester and started a new life, building it in the presence of the ghosts and the shadows of some of the greatest artists, architects, scientists, and musicians of all time. I learned from these people and became more independent, more creative, warmer, more sensitive, and more open to change. I learned that there are many ways to look at the same thing, and each way, whether it contradicts the other or not, can give this thing a deeper, more faceted meaning. It was deeply spiritual and dazzlingly intellectual. Florence challenged me, and though sometimes I felt lost, when I pieced everything together and realized the power of the human mind and spirit, I was completely found.
Kelly Kruse, Music, 2004
Once again, I really want to thank you for the Florence opportunity! I had the experience of a lifetime, and really feel like a different person! I’m excited and glad to be home with my family for Christmas, but I miss Florence already. I really did not want to leave, and I'm feeling a bit of culture shock coming back to the US, something I never expected to happen.

Levi Schwarck [Pre-Journalism and Mass Communication]

x x x

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Florence. I have a vast collection of experiences in Europe that have made me a more mature person than I was before. I learned a lot about myself and about other peoples from my journeys. . . Thank you once again for providing a way for me to experience a new part of the world.

Laura Gengelbach [Chemistry]

x x x

Thank you for a great semester.

Jerad Chipman [History]

x x x

Thanks again for an amazing semester.

Joel Taylor [Psychology]

x x x

I must say I am sincerely thankful for this opportunity. I, as I’m sure many before, and hopefully after, can attest to the fact that this has been a completely life-changing experience.

Florence, specifically my time with Dr. Capponi, my roommates, new international friends, and travels have shown me that there is a great big world out there, that I am capable of so very much, and most importantly made abundantly clear the most important things in life.

I will go back to classes and work with a new clarity on what it is I want to do and the person I wish to become

In the words of Dr. Capponi, “I spent four months in Italy and really learned how to live.”

Jara Andruysk [Child, Adult and Family Services]

Joel Seiberlng proposes to Elizabeth Weekly in Piazza Michelangelo.
She accepted. (students, 2006 – proposal 2008)

I couldn't begin to describe to you the many experiences and life lessons I've learned over here as a result of the Tones of Florence.

Jeff Dole [Civil Engineering]

x x x

As far as studying abroad, my eyes have been opened to so many new things. . . Being outside my comfort zone and conquering the small obstacles I faced while studying in a foreign culture gave me more confidence to fulfill my dreams and to keep working toward my life goals.

Sara McManus [Journalism and Mass Communication]

 x x x

It was an amazing semester. . . I have found myself from the beginning being inspired by this place and the people here.

(As I type this, the cleaning woman at the British Institute sees my red cold hands – it’s freezing outside today - and gives me salve for them.  I am overwhelmed at times by the kindness that I have received here. It is in this that I feel the undeniable urge to create and find inspiration.)

Lisa Hueneke [Art and Design]

x x x

The entire experience was amazing and wonderfully different from Iowa State.

This semester was life-changing and a true growth period for me. The students, the professors, the schools, everything eased me out of my comfort zone. In the end, I realized, the challenge was part of the fun. I would love to see this become a year-long program. 3 1/2 months was just not enough for me.

Tiffany Daniels [Journalism and Mass Communication]

x x x

To say that the Tones of Florence study abroad program was the experience of a lifetime almost seems like an understatement.  I still cannot believe the places I saw, the things I learned, and the number of people I met!  The city itself was an excellent place to study and live. Renaissance history came alive as I walked down the street where Machiavelli and Guicciardini lived, and through the square where Savonarola was burned at the stake. The classes and professors were terrific, and meeting students from so many different places shed light on the way I see the world.  I don’t know that I could ever forget making my way across the crowed Ponte Vecchio, touring the beautiful Chianti countryside, or the view from the top of the Duomo’s cupola.

Jara Andrusyk, Semester 2005

Holly Hedberg finds an Italian mate (2006)

Reflections on Studying in Florence
by Christy Steffen

The following article, written by Christy Steffen for a late fall edition, 2001 of the Iowa State Daily, was read on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 by Trevor Nelson, Director of Iowa State Univrsity’s Study Abroad Programs, to the International Relations Committee of the Iowa State Legislature about international activities at Iowa State University.

I took a walk the other day. Up the narrow, cobbled streets of Florence, past the medieval Forte Belvedere and under the arches that covered the way. Following the walls, which divided the city from the country, I strolled along admiring the smattering of crimson ivy, which snaked across the concrete and provided a stark contrast to the gray of the stone. This was the same walk that Galileo took every day for the last 15 years of his life.

I walked along these walls for a while until I came upon a clearing. In the distance stood the towers of Galileo’s observatory. Looking out across the landscape I thought of the sacrifices Galileo made throughout his life. The risks he took. The price he paid. But in thinking about those, I couldn’t ignore his accomplishments.

Standing there against a wall I know he must have glanced upon at least once or twice, I couldn’t help but pause to reflect upon the chance I took when I came to Florence three months ago.

When I first decided to study abroad in Florence, Italy for a semester, I put everything on hold. In search of something more, I left behind my comfortable, predictable life full of loving friends and family and embarked on a journey halfway across the world to a country I had only seen pictures of, with 14 other people I didn’t know.

At that time I needed respite from the monotony of my daily existence, which seemed to me like a scratched CD, skipping over and over again replaying the same verses. It was time to hit the stop button and change my tune.

The day that my parents dropped me off at the Des Moines International Airport and wished me goodbye I was filled with conflicting emotions. Part of me was bursting at the seams with excitement, eagerly anticipating the adventure that lay ahead of me. But another part of me was scared to death. Watching my parents walk away, I remember struggling to blink back tears as doubts began to flood my mind.

 Had I made the right decision? Would I be strong enough to handle three months on my own? Would I find the part of myself that I was traveling thousands of miles in search of?

 Standing there, overlooking the peaceful valley below and admiring the snowcapped mountains on the horizon, only then did the answers to these questions seem truly certain.

Living in Florence for the past three months has taught me more about myself and about life than I ever thought possible. By immersing myself in a culture foreign to my own, I have been able to step outside my comfort zone and find out exactly what I am made of.

Through all of the trials and tribulations that stemmed from language barriers and cultural differences I have gained a greater sense of myself and what I am capable of. I have not only become a more well-rounded person, but I have also adopted a greater sense of independence. I know what I want and I am not afraid to go get it.

Through my studies overseas I have developed an even greater thirst for knowledge. Studying scholars like Galileo, Machiavelli and Michelangelo has whet my appetite to expand my mind to encompass what these men have contributed to modern society.

By broadening my horizons I have discovered the things in life that I truly value. And I have come to the realization that there is so much in this world to discover that to limit yourself because of fear of the unknown is to do a great injustice to yourself.

Possibilities lie in every endeavor and the benefits of taking a chance are endless.

In four short days I will say goodbye to the town that has become my home away from home. And when I think of leaving I am once again filled with the same conflicting emotions of excitement and fear I felt before I began my journey to Florence. I know I am not the same person I was three months ago. And I know the America I left will not be the one I will come home to. But I, like Galileo, took the road less traveled, and to me that has made all the difference.