Not a Goodbye, a See You Later

AUF Masters Alumna Found Herself Drawn Back to Florence

Grace Tvetene first stepped foot in Florence during the 2022 spring semester. Set to spend the semester studying abroad at Florence University of the Arts - The American University of Florence. Tvetene had no idea that the semester ahead of her would change her life and that she would be calling Florence home for more than just a semester.


From a study abroad communications student, to an AUF alumna with an MA in International Education, Tvetene fell in love with Florence. She found herself back in Italy for her post-graduate pursuit of higher education. Her International Education major allowed Tvetene to further explore her passion for studying abroad in a way that directly translates to her future career.


“Florence is a very, very special city. Because, first of all obviously just all of the history, but I think there's also a certain energy here,” Tvetene said. “Even just walking the streets is like an open-air museum.”


Originally from St. Louis, Tvetene completed her undergraduate Communication degree at The University of Missouri. Tvetene was among some of the first study abroad students to return to Florence post-pandemic. With minimal tourists crowding the streets, Tvetene developed an intimate relationship with her new foster city.


“Florence then was so different than it is now. It was just so peaceful, and so much less packed,” Tvetene said. “I had a very different experience then. Obviously both still amazing, but then, it was just all very new and exciting”.


After a semester full of sightseeing and self exploration, Tvetene returned to Missouri for her senior year of college and finished her undergraduate program. After graduating in May of 2023, she discovered and applied for a scholarship opportunity to return to Florence.


Earning this scholarship allowed Tvetene to return to her former host city and stay to study as a full-time student from August 2023, to August 2024. Upon her return to Florence, Tvetene was enrolled as a Master of Arts in International Education student at The American University of Florence. Her transition from an American SEC school to a smaller Italian Masters program was an adjustment, but ultimately Tvetene was satisfied with her decision. The smaller academic atmosphere allowed her to quickly forge friendships with peers and professors alike.


“Here, everyone really knows each other and you really get to know and work one on one with your professors,” Tvetene said. “AUF is very much into integration. So, it's more of a hands-on approach than my education in the US.”


Tvetene completed her capstone where she surveyed numerous journalism students who studied abroad during undergrad. She inquired about how the experience abroad impacted their career development. After speaking to these students, she compiled her findings into a paper that provides institutions with suggestions to adequately prepare their students before study abroad and teaches them how to set them up for success afterwards. This allows students to leverage their experience and make the most of their time abroad when it comes to career development.


Since 2022, Tvetene has developed an appreciation and adoration for studying abroad. This is a passion she hopes to share and evolve throughout her career. Unsure of exactly what’s next, Tvetene plans to return to Missouri with hopes to continue traveling and finding a professional passion where she can work with study abroad students and institutions in the future. Tvetene’s time in Florence not only gifted her with memories that will last a lifetime, but her educational experience with AUF set her up for success as she began her professional career. 


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