Learning Across Cultures in Italy


Madison McCormick, a Global Liberal Studies junior studying in Italy, is honing her communications skills as Digital Strategy Intern for the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti in Florence, which constitutes her experiential learning placement for the GLS degree. Practicing the Italian language and balancing her experiential learning placement with studies at NYU Florence, Madison is cultivating a host of professional skills as a study away student. The Los Angeles native reveals the opportunities she's had through this experience in Italy.


How did you become interested in digital communications?
As part of a generation that moves more towards digital practices each day, I sought out a position that would increase my knowledge of this practice that I believe will be part of the future and will not be left behind with the past. Although, I first sought out UNICEF solely for the personal interest to work for them, regardless of what position, because I am passionate about their mission.



What skills are you building?
In my position with UNICEF Office of Research, I am learning and growing constantly in communication skills -- whether it is in person, by email, or via social media. I am cultivating skills in research and social media techniques each day. I have acquired analysis skills from creating reports on our social media launches. I have learned how to identify good social media etiquette and practices, as well.

Which experiences have been most helpful in preparing you for this role?
My GLS courses, from Writing to Art Criticism, have prepared me well in terms of writing skills and molding a creative mindset. Extracurricular experiences have been helpful as well in guiding me towards this role and preparing me for the content that I am working with; last year I was part of NYU’s Project Outreach and Alternative Breaks, in which I provided humanitarian services in New York and the Dominican Republic. I think it is very important to have an open mind, passion, and curiosity for the research topics that UNICEF covers and these experiences granted me that.

What's been your favorite experience at this placement?
An exciting part about working for UNICEF Office of Research in Florence is its location. The Innocenti building, which hosts UNICEF, originally was the oldest orphanage in Western Europe and is located in the center of Florence, a few blocks away from the Duomo. Each day as I park my bike in Piazza Santissima Annunziata and walk into the offices, tucked into a medieval courtyard with arched hallways and remnants of frescoes on the walls, I pinch myself for being so lucky to work in such an important historical building. Today, the Innocenti building uses its space to provide many services like daycare, a woman’s outreach center, and a museum.

Another exciting part about this role is getting to visibly see my contributions on the social media accounts. It is really cool to be able to scroll through my Twitter feed and see a post from UNICEF Office of Research with my work.

What advice would you give to other GLS students about study abroad?
I would advise them to not hold back. Arrive with confidence and curiosity about the new, foreign culture you will be a part of. You have the unique opportunity to live in a place, amongst those who are native and those who are tourists, and you have a choice to become part of either group. Speak the language to the best of your ability, no matter how silly you may sound. You won’t become fluent from your textbook homework, and it is a lot more satisfying to be able to give someone directions in a foreign language. And most importantly, explore your city! You don’t want to regret not discovering as much as you possibly could.

Updated on 02/10/2015