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Students’ Studies Lead Them Abroad

SACI sculpture courtyardAn understanding of a culture or region of the world other than one's own is an important part of a professional and liberal arts education at Ohio Northern. It’s also a key to developing leaders in an increasingly interdependent global society. The study abroad program in the department of art & design is designed to provide a range of opportunities for qualified students to study in Europe or elsewhere.

The chance to study abroad offers students endless rewards. The art & design department encourages its students to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to learn. The department’s study abroad coordinator, Prof. Melissa Eddings says, “Art majors should consider studying abroad to broaden art and design experiences, gain greater global understanding, and develop independence and self discipline. Our studio arts program requires students to study abroad.”

Starting this term, three ONU art & design students will be studying at the Studio Arts Center International (SACI) in Florence, Italy.

“Orientation begins on January 7 at SACI,” says Emily Jay, a studio arts major from Powell, Ohio. “When our flight arrives in Florence, we meet with a SACI representative, be given housing information and keys, and then get a taxi to our apartments.” The following days include a variety of sessions about SACI, Italian culture and customs, and tours of facilities.

Classes at SACI begin on Monday, January 12. Students are able to take a variety of courses in art history, fine arts and design, museology, conservation, history of Italian opera and cinema, creative writing and Italian. “As usual,” says Emily, “I’m second guessing myself. I’m already registered for classes, but I’m thinking I should change my schedule. Like, maybe I should take advanced painting instead of intermediate. And maybe I should take digital multimedia instead of writing. And maybe I should take Renaissance literature instead of video. There’s a lot of tough choices to make!”

Junior studio arts major Katy MacNaughton from Delaware, Ohio, was excited when her visa arrived in the mail. “It was one more step closer to the end of this crazy waiting game. With the end of the quarter and our departure only days away, excitement has become a permanent sort of feeling.”

ImageKaty was also overwhelmed by the heartfelt support from her peers. During finals week at ONU, art & design students organized a going away party for the three “new Florentine students.” “Thanks to everyone for the wonderful surprise party! I was so surprised and very grateful,” said Katy. “It was a little sad to have said goodbye to everyone for a full semester. I will miss everyone!”

Joe Stevenson, an art education major from Elida, Ohio, echoed the same sentiments. “It was really nice of everyone to have a surprise going away party for the three of us! We were in good company at the Wilson Art Center for sure.”

He is also looking forward to the journey to Florence. ”I want to be challenged in my artistic abilities by renowned artists and also by other students who are at the top of their class in ability,” said Joe. Only 100 students, from around the world, are accepted to SACI each semester.

Emily is expecting this experience to have a profound influence on her life. ”One of the most exciting things about going to study in Florence,“ says Emily, ”is that Florence is where the rebirth of art took place, and I hope that by going there I myself can have a rebirth of sorts. I know this trip will push my art in a new direction, hopefully helping me to find the direction and confidence I need to move forward after college.“

During the past few years, several art students grabbed the opportunity to live and learn in a foreign country. Melissa Becker, a 2005 graduate, traveled to Florence, Italy during the summer of 2004. While in Florence, Melissa attended the Lorenzo de Medici School. A 2006 graduate, Abigail Mosbarger studied at SACI. She adventured to Florence during the winter and spring quarters of 2005.

At SACI, Abigail took an intensive Italian class, an advanced sculpture class, a Batik class, and a marble carving class. She claimed that the marble carving class was her favorite. “We actually obtained the marble by climbing the marble mountains up in Carrara and Pietrasanta. These exact mountains are where all the best carvers in the world come to get their highest quality of marble and also where historic greats like Michelangelo Buonarroti quarried their marble for famous statues like David,” said Abigail.

She also encourages others to study abroad. “I believe that every single person should study abroad. This experience will benefit their lives in numerous ways. There are hundreds of countries; so, pick the one that interests you and live there!” she said. Abigail is currently an art teacher in the Austin, Texas area.

Emily can't agree more. ”I also know that this trip will make me a stronger and more independent person. I’m moving into a country where I don't speak the language, let alone the fact that there are some serious cultural differences that I will have to adjust to. I'm looking forward to these challenges, though, and I look forward to see how they shape and change me."    

Ciao Bellas!To keep in contact, the three ONU students have started a blog called We Dream in Italian. “This has been quite an involved process,” said Emily. “We started this blog to allow us to share our experiences with our friends, professors and our families. There isn’t much on it yet. But, as we get situated in Florence, there will be much more. So, check it out for pictures and stories of what we’re doing!”

The Web address for the students’ blog can be found at

“This is an exciting and valuable experience for our students,” says Brit Rowe, chair of the department of art & design. “This kind of opportunity provides them an experience that turns the entire world into a dynamic classroom.”

Ohio Northern is dedicated to giving students the chance not only to deepen their knowledge in their chosen career field but also to broaden their world view by adding a global perspective.

The department of art & design has a specific cooperative art exchange agreement with the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The University also has agreements with the Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy, and the Burren School of Art in County Clare, Ireland. ONU is a member of the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), which provides many other study abroad and internship opportunities.

ONU offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the top 200 creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design, contact the department at 419-772-2160.