In the heart of Florence, as fireworks painted the night sky to welcome the new year, Marshall University fine arts student Morgan Napier found herself immersed in a unique celebration, thanks to a winter study abroad program.
“I have been so grateful to have spent the new year in Italy,” she said. “I am so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to see bucket list artworks in such a personal way.
“It was an amazing experience, seeing Florence come to life with fireworks. The people were so lively and happy. It felt surreal to be celebrating in Italy with my classmates.”
Morgan’s study abroad experience illustrated how the intersection of art, education and cultural exploration unfold as a testament to the transformative power of immersive experiences, leaving an unforgettable mark on her journey through Marshall University and beyond.
The second half of the program took Morgan and her classmates to Rome, where she says she experienced her favorite moment from the entire program.
“My favorite moment from the trip was climbing the stairs in St. Peter’s Basilica to the top of the dome and overlooking Rome. From that view, I could see all the sights, such the Colosseum and the Vatican.”
This program had a transformative effect on Morgan’s perspective as she returned to Marshall for the spring semester. She says she feels refreshed and excited to be in the classroom again.
“This study abroad experience has helped me connect with the content that I have learned in my classes in a more personal way,” she said. “Seeing paintings and statues that I have learned about and appreciated through a screen, now in person, was a surreal experience.”
The impact on Morgan’s academic experience is evident. She says the world-renowned art in Italy has fueled her inspiration to create more art and incorporate techniques observed during her program.
Morgan, who grew up in Barboursville, West Virginia, says choosing Marshall University was a natural decision.
“I chose the visual art program at Marshall because I could see myself in this space, creating and collaborating with other artists. When I was picking a program, my worry was that I’d find myself in a repetitive day-to-day life, but the art program offers me a variety of learning opportunities that keeps things fresh and exciting.”
As a graphic design enthusiast, Morgan aspires to work in a collaborative space with fellow creatives, possibly in a marketing or design firm. She says the School of Art & Design at Marshall has played a pivotal role in shaping her path by providing opportunities like this study abroad program and guiding her toward internships and professional growth.
For Morgan, the essence of being a Marshall student lies in forming deep connections and friendships that extend beyond the classroom.
“My favorite part of being a Marshall student is forming friendships and meaningful connections over the years,” she said. “I have been introduced to so many wonderful and influential people during my career here that I know will impact my life for years to come.”
Having participated in other programs like the School of Art & Design’s annual New York City trip, Morgan expresses a commitment to continuing her exploration of the world. Her advice to those considering such experiences is unequivocal: Participate.
“I 100% recommend going because this was an eye-opening trip which has inspired me to want to keep traveling and possibly study abroad again in the future.”