Hometown: Bloomingburg, NY
Student's Name: Kathryn Herbert (FFE 2010-2011)
What was your initial reaction after discovering the Freshman Florence Experience (FFE)?
Surprise that such an amazing opportunity was available, especially for freshmen. And, a bit envious!
What were some of your concerns about sending your child to the Florence branch campus?
Certainly I was concerned about the distance and the length of time she would be away.
How did you arrive at the conclusion that the FFE would be the best option for your child? What were the contributing factors?
Kathryn had always hoped to study abroad. Having the opportunity to do so on a Marist campus, in supported housing, with at-hand staff and supervision, in combination with the study and travel opportunities more than tipped the balance away from my anxieties. The financial support from Marist removed barriers.
What steps did you take to help prepare your child for this experience?
We spoke with the FFE staff and students. We paid attention to the guidance given in the FFE orientation. We reviewed personal budgets and set up how we would communicate and made sure she had some resources for emergencies.
How did you communicate with your child during his/her time in Florence?
We regularly emailed and spoke on the phone. Facebook was a lifeline for updates and photos and chats. We planned Skype sessions. Since Kathryn stayed in Florence during intersession, we had a special Skype session on Christmas.
What is your favorite memory or story from your child’s experience?
We visited Kathryn in early January and experienced Epiphany in Florence. She showed us a great deal of the city, including not just museums and classic sites but also her daily sites so we had a snapshot of her life in the city. We traveled to Rome and explored the Vatican together.
How has this program affected your child? What have they gained? How have they grown?
This program gave Kathryn real direction. She knows now where she'd like her path to take her. It helped her decide on a major. She gained confidence and self-assurance. She grew as a student and in her personal journey. She made wonderful friends, both from the Marist program and outside the program.
What advice would you give prospective families who are considering enrolling their student in the FFE?
The best advice I would give is the advice we were given: the experience is best if the students consider themselves emigrants living in a new place, not students studying abroad. This program offers a unique opportunity to become a member of a new culture, to be open to peoples of different perspectives and experiences, and to take those experiences into one’s self. I don't think this is a program for everyone, and I think it is most valuable for the student ready to step into this new life - for a year anyway!