Emma - Semester in Parto

Studying at the Monash Centre in Prato Italy was without a doubt one of the highlights of not just my university experience, but my whole life. The Prato Centre is around twenty minutes outside of Florence, located in a beautiful 18th Century Palazzo, which is a little nicer than my classes held in the Menzies building. Whether it was the man at 24-hour bakery located near my accommodation who thought I spoke fluent Italian or the Monash Prato staff, everyone was beyond lovely and super welcoming to the Prato community which made the already incredible experience that much better. Centred right in the heart of Tuscany, it was super easy to move around Italy during the weekends and afternoons. I was fortunate enough to travel all around Italy to Milan, Pisa, Bologna, Rome, Lucca, Siena, Naples and of course Florence during my time in Prato.

I studied in the third block of the Arts Semester in Prato Program, meaning I was able to complete my typical semester two at home in Clayton and then fly over and study for four weeks in Prato. This enabled me to keep to my course progression and take an extra unit to further my degree. The unit I undertook in Prato was centred around the European Union, which was the perfect way to learn about the political environment of the area you are visiting. Because of the location, we were fortunate enough to meet leading academics in the field of EU politics at the European University Institute, situated on a hill overlooking the beautiful Florence. This was a great way to hear from academics living in the EU and their take on the current challenges it is facing. The unit was not only an incredible way gain a better understanding of the EU but to look beneath the surface of EU politics and understand how and why it has developed into what we know today.

The Prato Program was my first time overseas without my family and was a little bit daunting. However, having familiar and new faces around the Monash Centre made Prato feel a little more like home. It was a great way to experience an individual and independent overseas program, without feeling completely isolated from home. The programs run by the Prato centre including Parliamo introduced me to the Italian language and was extremely helpful to fully immerse yourself in the Italian culture and remove some of that fear of being in an unfamiliar environment. However, it didn’t take long for Prato to start to feel like home, even if it was just for a little while.

The Prato program was an experience I will never forget. The friends I made and the memories I have are something I will treasure forever. It was truly an incredible experience.

I am extremely thankful for the Global Scholars Program which not only allowed me to undertake this program but also increased my engagement back home. This program solidified my career goals to work in the field of International Relations abroad, and for that I am grateful.