Study abroad has provided an academic change of pace this semester for University of Mississippi senior Courtney Messina of Plano, Texas. Enrolled in the Study Abroad Italy program at Florence University of the Arts in Florence, Italy, Messina is enjoying a lifestyle change, making new friends and exploring that part of the world.
She arrived in Florence Aug. 31and is scheduled to return to the states Dec. 17. Her academic credit courses at FUA include cross-cultural psychology for her psychology major, and international terrorism for her political science minor. She is also taking Italian language and wine appreciation classes.
She is living on the top floor of an eight-story apartment building, on one of the busiest streets in Florence and around the corner from the historic Brunelleschi’s Dome. She lives with a friend from UM and two new friends, who are students at the University of Virginia and Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago.
“Our location is absolutely fabulous,” Messina said. “We’re in close proximity with just about everything – classes, markets and the Piazza Signorina, with great restaurants and outdoor music. And the Arno River, where I run alongside most mornings, is a five-minute walk away.”
Travel is also included in Messina’s itinerary, with several excursions provided in the SAI package. She has taken a mini-cruise to the Tuscan Archipelago and the islands Giglio and Giannutri in the Tyrrhenian Sea, as well as a trip farther south in Tuscany to Fonteblanda and Populonia, “two absolutely beautiful coastal towns,” she said. Other SAI excursions are scheduled to Pisa and Siena.
In other adventures, she joined a couple of friends and traveled by train from Nice to Cannes to Monaco. She has booked trips to London and Barcelona; and her parents, John and Eunice Messina, will join her during fall break for a trip to Rome and other sightseeing.
Messina transferred to UM after her freshman year at Southern Methodist University, where she was recruited to play soccer.
“When things didn’t work out as planned, what really drew me to want to transfer to UM was immediately the beautiful campus,” she said. “In addition, the genuine friendliness of the Oxford community and of the South made me feel that Ole Miss would be a good place for me to strive and achieve my goals in the classroom and out on the soccer field.”
Following completion of her bachelor’s degree in May, Messina plans to attend graduate school and work toward a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
“Ideally, I would one day like to run my own practice or possibly work as a sports psychologist at a university, having been an athlete since age 4 and playing three years of college soccer,” she said.
Messina graduated from John Paul II Catholic High School in Plano.
For more information about UM’s Study Abroad opportunities, go to http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/study_abroad/.