Summer Abroad Publication Releases First Remote Edition

Each summer, FSU’s International Programs hosts study abroad sessions in several countries including England, Spain, and Italy. This year, however, COVID-19 created a different scenario.

For many students, this may have meant scrolling through TikTok instead of visiting art galleries, learning a new language, and discovering another culture across the pond.

A few communication students however still had the chance to work on a key project as if they were in Florence, Italy.

Dr. Patrick Merle, Director of the School of Communication, has been leading the communication program in Florence, Italy since its inaugural year in 2017. The focal point of the program is the creation of ItaliaNoles, FSU’s Florence campus magazine.

Beginning as a Summer-only publication, ItaliaNoles is now produced year-round with Fall and Spring editions as well. Past editions can be found digitally here.

Although study abroad programs were canceled this summer, Dr. Merle and a few of the program’s alumni decided that ItaliaNoles should continue. “Studying in Italy has been a fundamental part of these students’ lives and they were happy to contribute to another edition. I am grateful for their involvement,” Dr. Merle says.ItaliaNoles Summer 2020 cover

One such alumna was Rachel Corry. She began working with ItaliaNoles after her study abroad trip in Summer 2019. She came back as editor-in-chief for this Summer’s remote edition. “When Dr. Merle asked me if I wanted to contribute to this summer’s publication, and then asked if I wanted to be editor-in-chief, I knew immediately my answer was ‘absolutely!’ I was determined to do my part in continuing ItaliaNoles and not simply brushing it aside because of the pandemic,” she says.

Although she was excited, the process wasn’t easy. “Collaborating on a publication remotely is very different from collaborating in person. It requires each magazine writer to be disciplined and committed to contributing without the daily in-person reminders we experienced last summer,” she explains. “The publication created remotely this summer was much more independent and based on resources available to us online for relevant research.”

Typically, students in the program have one class entirely dedicated to creating the publication.  A former journalist himself, Dr. Merle treats the classroom as a professional newsroom. The students act as reporters, copy editors, photographers, and designers, while Dr. Merle introduces them to local reporters in Florence, invites key figures to speak in class, and shares editorial and writing techniques learned throughout his career.

“The objective is for students to feel empowered and in charge of the magazine so they can enjoy the process,” Dr. Merle explains.

The program also allows students to gain professional skills while exploring the world. “More and more employers in the US and globally look for people who have intercultural competence, so it was my chief intention to create a program that would help our students with this,” says Dr. Merle.

For program alumna Cassandra Nicolace, this aspect of the program shaped the rest of her time at FSU. “After working on ItaliaNoles, I actively pursued coursework to develop my understanding of cultural groups both within the US and internationally. It kickstarted my passion for learning about our differences and celebrating them,” she explains.

Victoria Villanti, another alumna, agrees. “Immersing myself in another culture sharpened my communication skills and pushed me out of my comfort zone to communicate in new ways,” she says.

If you are a student looking to get involved with the communication program in Florence (once programs resume) you can learn more information here. Also, you can read the latest edition of ItaliaNoles here. “I hope that this edition motivates other students to go to Italy with the Communication program once we can,” says Dr. Merle.