A degree from the UAB Collat School of Business can land you anywhere. Just ask Tina Poe. A spring 2022 graduate, Poe is heading to Italy this fall to begin the International Year One Program opens a new website at Syracuse Academy in Sicily, fully immersing herself in the Italian language and culture for the three-year fashion and textile design program.
She recently explained how her business degree in management and her experience with Collat Education Abroad helped prepare her for the journey.
Q: What made you decide to move to Italy?
A: I have always been enthralled with the beauty and culture that is Italy. One of my biggest dreams has always been to attend school and live there. Now that I have achieved the other goals that I wanted to achieve, I have time to start making that dream a reality. It is not so much wanting a different life as it is wanting to experience a unique way of living. I felt like I was stuck in a rut and unable to escape. I love traveling and seeing unfamiliar places and learning about new cultures, but you can only experience so much in the short amount of time a vacation (or study abroad) lasts. Being able to experience Italy long-term will help fill that void I have felt for so many years.
Q: You went on the UAB Education Abroad trip to Italy with Dr. Mickey Bunn — what did you learn on that trip and how did it prepare you to move?
A: First, I highly suggest participating in a study abroad course, in any country you want, if you have the opportunity. Not only do you get the opportunity to make new friends, but it is one of the best experiences you could have. That being said, my plans to attend school in Italy were in motion before the study abroad to Italy was announced. However, the trip gave me a unique insight into Italy's culture that you can't get from the internet. The trip allowed me to converse with locals and learn more about their passion for life firsthand. Just being able to be there for the brief time that we were visiting definitely helped me in my preparation to move there.
Q: Was there anything that you learned on that trip about life in Italy that surprised you?
A: I would have to say the indefinable quality of the architecture, the history, and the beauty and romance of the culture. Italy truly is a place where you can say "pictures do not do it justice." I felt very welcome and never out of place while there. The people are never rushed and hold the value of family and friends above most everything. The sheer passion that Italians have in everything they do gives the country a soul that really speaks to you.
Q: How do you think your new management degree will help you on this fashion design journey?
A: I think my management degree, paired with my concentration in administration and minor in international business, will be an asset to help me exceed in another culture. It also has helped prepare me in other ways. I am more knowledgeable about the business proceedings in that culture, I have become more organized, and I can manage varying tasks with more ease. I am prepared for any obstacles that may present themselves in my journey.
Q: Do you have any advice for UAB students thinking about moving abroad or studying abroad?
A: My best advice for anyone wanting to study or live abroad would be to prepare extensively. Have contingency plans for situations that are possibilities. For example, make sure you have your laptop and extra money in case you get stuck in the country for additional time because you test positive for Covid. Yes, that happened to me, and I did not have a laptop for schoolwork. Luckily, we were able to rent one, but you may not always be as lucky. Also, make sure to learn as much as you can about the country you are visiting so that you can be better equipped to fit in with the culture. Some things that are perfectly acceptable in our country could be offensive in another. So, overall, just be prepared and be aware.
Learn more about Collat Education Abroad, including the fall program in Denmark.