Florence 2015 Study Abroad Alumni: An Interview with Jackie Thornton and Ryan Shields

In the Summer of 2015, International Programs interns Jackie Thornton and Ryan Shields participated in the four-week study abroad program in Florence, Street Photography.

Photograph by International Programs intern Ryan Shields from Action and Reaction: Italia.

Photograph by International Programs intern Ryan Shields from Action and Reaction: Italia.

Why did you choose this program?

Ryan: “My major is digital media with a focus in motion media, so this program directly related to my major. I also wanted to explore still frame composition.”

Jackie: “I have a minor in photography, so that was a big draw for me. Also friends of mine previously went on the Florence trip and loved it, so that really helped convince me.”

I understand that each student on the trip had to come up with a photographic theme, a focus for taking pictures for a final project. What were your themes?

Ryan: “My theme was on action and reaction, photographing people. It was challenging to try and make sure I didn’t shoot touristy things.”

Jackie: “For myself it was challenging to pick a theme and to try and not make it look like a tourist book. I had two themes, horizontal lines and tattoos.”

How did you both prepare for this trip?

Ryan: “Once I learned that I was accepted into the program, I began brushing up on Italian and learning about the culture and cities of Italy.”

Jackie: “I wanted to learn how to use my camera before I left on the trip.”

What were the most notable cultural differences you experienced?

Ryan: “Travel was a lot different, walking and renting bikes are definitely the way to go and a smart car is a normal sized vehicle in Italy.”
Jackie: “I noticed that in Italy there is a lot more importance placed on family and that people lived in multi generational homes.”

Photograph by International Programs lead intern Jackie Thornton from the body of art.

Photograph by International Programs lead intern Jackie Thornton from the body of art.

What was the biggest challenge while studying abroad in Florence?

Ryan: “I think that a lack versatility in cuisine and slow pace of life was challenging, it was especially hard to follow an itinerary in a slow paced country.”

Jackie: “I felt that living with other people proved challenging for myself.”

Can you describe one of your most memorable moments that you had?

Ryan: “Being immersed in the most artistic city of the world (Florence) was very memorable.”

Jackie: “On the last day in Venice I went off by myself to find Marco Polo’s house and I found it! Another memorable moment was being able to capture unique images that I would never have the opportunity to do so in the U.S.”

What advice would you give to other students thinking of study abroad?

Ryan: “Make sure that you document your memories whether it be through pictures, journals, or keepsakes.”

Jackie: “Try and learn the most you can about everything you see.”

Blog post and interviews by International Programs intern Sam Hudson.

For more information, please contact Susan Moore at sulmoore@iusb.edu.

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