September 3, 2013

Italian Engineering Student Shares Experience at Tennessee

By: Bryant Welbourne
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

As part of a partnership between Southeastern Conference universities and the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, Italian engineering students were on several SEC campuses this semester. The exchange program, in its fourth year, allows Italian students to study at conference universities in the fall and SEC students to study in Italy the following spring.

One student who took part in the program was Marco Merlotti, a junior from Morro D’Oro (TE), Abruzzo, who studied mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee. Merlotti shared his experience with SECU, the conference’s academic initiative, following his semester in the United States.

SECU: What sparked your interest in taking part in the exchange program?

Marco Merlotti: “I have always dreamed of studying in the United States because of the way this country is hospitable to students from my country.”

SECU: What were your expectations going into this experience?

Marco Merlotti: “My greatest expectation was to grow from this experience by living in a different framework of cultural issues and with students from several countries from around the world.”

SECU: How was the reception from students and faculty once you arrived at Tennessee?

Marco Merlotti: “The reception I received from students and faculty was definitely unique. They helped me have a smooth transition and helped solve all the kinds of issues I had in the first days. They tried to make me feel as if I was at home.”

SECU: What has your experience been like in the classroom working with SEC students and faculty?

Marco Merlotti: “Working on projects and group assignments is one thing I have come to appreciate in the United States teaching system since it is something I was not used to at all. And the professors were always available to meet with students.”

SECU: What is your favorite part of university life in America?

Marco Merlotti: “I really liked working with other American students on projects. It was something that helps me grow by seeing different ways of thinking and operating to solve problems. And obviously it is a fun way to practice and improve my English.”

SECU: Did you get to experience any sporting events? If so, what is your impression of college athletics in America?

Marco Merlotti: “I joined the club swim team and had the chance to compete in a sport I have always loved. I really liked practicing with the team and I had the honor to travel with them to a swim meet.”

SECU: What will be the most memorable experience you will take with you?

Marco Merlotti: “I would say the trip to Niagara Falls. It was a wonderful experience and the Maid of the Mist was definitely amazing.”

SECU: What advice would you give to the American students who will study in Italy next semester?

Marco Merlotti: “I would tell them to try to obtain everything they can from such an incredible experience. I would also tell them to be prepared for the cultural differences they will face in Italy.”