I had always wanted to go to Italy, but I never thought college would bring me that experience! I chose to study abroad because I wanted to grow as a person; I wanted to be pushed outside of my comfort zone in a way that I have never had to push myself before. I wanted to be immersed in another country’s culture, and understand why that culture is so important to the people who live there. Florence, Italy was the perfect destination for me. With my major, I could not do a complete semester abroad. I chose the 3-week summer program, and I will never regret my month in Florence.
As soon as we arrived, we were treated like royalty. In Italy, Italians value the “slowness” of life, something that we all tend to lose in our busy everyday lives. I took an Italian Culture and Cooking class and immediately learned that Italians are extremely proud of every dish that they prepare, and put much thought into each ingredient that is used. They use meal times to slow down and bring people together. Eating so many amazing dishes with my classmates from around the world was a great way to slow down and bring many different types of people together, to appreciate something that we all physiologically need, food. We learned many things about the preparation and presentation of food, and even got to take cooking classes and prepare our own pizza and pasta.
We lived right off of Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous bridges in the world. We went on many walking tours of Florence and learned why this little city in Tuscany was so special. We went to the Uffizi Museum, and saw many famous treasures from the Italian Renaissance, such as “The Birth of Venus”. Art was a very important movement in Florence during the Renaissance, and we got to learn and see a lot of both Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci’s work. We were able to climb all 463 steps of the Duomo and see the extraordinary panoramic view of Florence from the top. And of course we learned all about how to tell real gelato from the touristy, and how to properly drink wine. There were many perks of traveling all the way to Tuscany!
All in all, this was the experience of a life time, and I cannot stress how life-changing studying abroad is. Florence, Italy was once a city that I hardly knew a thing about, but now somewhere that I feel like will always have a piece of me. I never wanted to stop learning about this amazing city with so much history, and that’s what life is all about, learning from experiences. This trip was so fulfilling to me and I will forever be changed by it. If you ever question studying abroad, go for it. I will never be able to stress the amount of independence and knowledge you will gain from this type of experience.
Mary Simerly is majoring in Nursing. She spent 3 weeks over summer studying abroad in Florence, Italy through AIFS. Mary had the following quote, from Hilaire Belloc, to share about her study abroad experience, “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”
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