I had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy this summer and I can honestly say it was a life changing experience. I learned not only more about myself but also about an entirely different country, culture and its people. I know that may sound like a cliché but it is true. I recommend studying abroad to anyone, but for those who are seriously interested in art as well as the Italian language, Florence is the place to go!
At first, I was quite skeptical about studying in Florence. I did not know much about the city or Italy in general but I had heard many good things from my other friends that had studied abroad before me. I then went on to do my own research and that brought me to my first meeting in the study abroad office, proving that I was serious about making this trip happen. I was given many books and pamphlets to look over, providing me with many different programs and cities to select from. We discussed my major and what courses I would be interested in taking while abroad which led me to making the concrete decision that if I were to study abroad than it would without a doubt be in Florence Italy. Why you might ask? Florence is known to be the art capital of Italy, so for any aspiring artist, such as myself, it seemed like the most logical place for me to immerse myself in Florentine art as well as its history. It is also possible for many students of other majors who are simply looking for a beautiful but smaller city to study abroad in.
After my meeting with my study abroad advisor, I then went home to further research the different program providers that she had recommended. I had narrowed it down to two programs, specifically being AIFS and CISabroad, simply because they worked best with my summer schedule. I then went on to read more and found that AIFS offered many scholarship opportunities, which is ultimately the reason why I went with this program. I applied for every scholarship that I was eligible for, and I ended up receiving quite a bit of money from both UTC and AIFS. It took many long nights writing countless essays over “why I should be given this money to fulfill my dreams of studying abroad” but ultimately it was worth the endless typing and revising, given the amount of money I was rewarded. Without this money, I never would have been able to afford a trip like this, so to those of you who feel or believe they aren’t capable of studying abroad due to financial reasons, I highly encourage you to look into the program provider AIFS as well as speaking with your study abroad advisor, as many of them are willing to help you in any way they can in order to make your trip happen. Studying abroad does not come easy but it is for sure possible for anyone!
Overall, my journey abroad could not have gone more perfectly, and I believe that is because I remained completely open minded throughout the entire experience. There were moments where I experienced serious culture shock and indeed became frustrated with both the locals around me as well as the country in general. The way people drive in Italy should be illegal, my apartment did not have air conditioning (and mind you it was the middle of June so it was very hot), and many people around you do not speak the English language, making it difficult to simply order your dinner. These are just a few examples of reasons why one might begin to miss America. It is okay to feel this way and if you do study abroad it is likely you will, but remaining positive and surrounding yourself with people in your program who are as willing to embrace this new culture will make it possible to get through moments like this. Through this struggle of becoming acclimated with a new country I met many new people, some of which I am still in contact with today. These friends that I made during moments like this just make the memories of this trip that much more special, knowing that I was not alone.
Ashley Micillo is majoring in Art (Photography and Media) and spent Summer 2019 studying abroad in Florence, Italy through AIFS. Ashley had the following to say about study abroad, “All I can say is if you have the opportunity to study abroad, DO IT! Take risks, embrace every part of the culture and country, and enjoy your time abroad because it will fly by.”
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