american living in florence: interview with professor patricia kinsella


illustration by marina difranco

When studying abroad there are so many different aspects to look forward to during your time away. From the food to the culture, travel and fashion, there are various amazing opportunities to indulge in during your abroad experience. Though these can make or break your experience, ultimately you are there to study, so another pivotal factor in this experience is your professors. 


On Kent State’s main campus, chances are you have either met or heard of many of the professors. However, when entering a semester at a satellite campus, there are opportunities to connect with a whole team of faculty you have never met before. 


At the Kent State Florence campus, there are many accomplished professors with years of industry experience, most of whom are still working in their fields outside of teaching. 


I had the pleasure of speaking with American fashion professor and On-site Coordinator Patricia Kinsella. Not only does she teach multiple courses at the Kent State Florence campus, but she is also a freelance textile designer/artist.


Considering all of the achievements under her belt, you might be wondering how Kinsella got to where she is today. Though she had a seasoned career in the states prior to her move, her career journey in Italy began in 1985. “I originally came to Italy for work,” Kinsella said. “I was working as a textile designer in New York and while I was here I met my husband and decided to stay.” 


Although many positive changes come with moving to a new country, there are also many setbacks. “Learning the language was huge for me, I did not feel like I could have a career without knowing the language,” Kinsella said. “It took two years for me to fully learn Italian. It was also hard being away from family and adapting to the culture, but overall it made me a much more tolerant person.”  


Though teaching is a large part of her career, textiles were Kinsella’s first love. “I have done a lot of different things in textiles,” Kinsella said. “I have worked as a designer sourcing textiles for the U.S., I have a weaving studio in Prato and I work with the textile mills and come up with prototypes for their design development.” 


Following her love of textiles, Kinsella soon pursued her passion for teaching as well. She had her first teaching job the summer after graduating with her master’s degree, and then continued teaching when she moved to Florence in 1986. 


Moving abroad now still comes with its challenges, but it is nothing like it was in the ‘80s. “I probably missed my family the most, but when I first moved here I missed The New York Times,” Kinsella said. “I also used to miss movies, but now we have Netflix. Also, when I first moved here very expensive phone calls and letters were the only way of communication which made things difficult.” 


All of the setbacks aside, there is so much to appreciate about Italy and its culture. When asked about her favorite parts of Italy, Kinsella had a fruitful response:


“Probably my husband,” she laughed. “I find Italy a fantastic place to live. I love the culture, the food, the seaside. The other thing I love is the textile producing center, and to be a part of this industry, Italians are so creative. I am also so lucky to work with Kent at an American university and get the best of both worlds. I am more than happy to share what I know about Italy and the business with my students.”


Kinsella also teaches the Florence Orientation course, which is a remote class taken one semester before your departure abroad. In this class, she teaches you everything you need to get acclimated during your time away while helping you prepare for things like culture shock and budgeting. 


It is clear that Kinsella cares about her students and will do whatever she can to help them during their stay in Florence. “We welcome you with open arms,” Kinsella said. “I think it’s an incredible experience. It really opens your mind, expands your horizons, shows you different ways to solve problems and allows you to change yourself and grow.”

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Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.