Being able to go study abroad was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy and I had the time of my life. I got to learn more about the Italian culture, picked up some Italian, and ate the best food imaginable. I met some of the sweetest people and was really able to emerge myself into the Italian culture. I lived with 6 other girls, 7 including myself. I was a little nervous about this, but I ended up having a great time and building life long friends. I was homesick in the beginning and definitely felt what is culture shock. But I learned to embrace what made me uncomfortable and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I learned more about myself and what interests me. I saw so many places, traveled, and even took two solo trips. If someone would have told me that I was going to be taking not one, but two solo trips while I was abroad, I would not have believed you. Before going abroad, I considered myself to be more reserved and sticking to what I know.
Going abroad has allowed me to become more expressive and learn more about myself. I saw so much of Europe, and traveling in and around Europe is definitely very inexpensive. I went to the following places: Sienna, Pisa, Livorno, Paris, London, Capri, Naples, Pompeii, Bologna, Cinque Terre, Rome, Barcelona, Verona, and Lake Garda. I was able to experience diﬀerent parts of Italy and even traveled beyond Italy. I would have to say my favorite place that I traveled to would have to be Barcelona, Spain. It was the most beautiful city, with the nicest people and amazing food. The atmosphere was incredible, and I can even see myself going back and possibly living there for a while.
One thing that I really appreciated during my time abroad is human interaction. Those who live in Italy are very nice and welcoming. I have learned how to listen, learn, and communicate with others in a way that is productive. This was an element I found myself comparing back to America while I was abroad and thinking that people in America are not as welcoming or willing to communicate beyond just small talk. I want to start treating others with kindness more, not take life for granted, and really get to know more about my community. There is really so much of the world out there. I believe becoming aware in the diﬀerent parts of the world can make one well versed and appreciative of life.
Something I kept telling myself while abroad was, “The money will come back and the experiences will last forever.” As cheesy as it sounds, it is true and something I told myself quite frequently. Worrying about money while you are abroad is a normal experience that those studying abroad will come across.
My advice is to not stress and remember that these experiences you are gaining will last you a lifetime and you will not regret your time spent while studying abroad as it is the best experience anyone can partake in.
Emma Soefker (BFA Art – Graphic Design) spent the Spring 2023 semester studying abroad in Florence, Italy through a direct enroll at Florence University of the Arts. Emma had the following to say about studying abroad, “ I want those who are considering studying abroad to not be scared or intimidated. Your experiences will last you a lifetime and it was the best decision that I could ever make. You will eat the best food imaginable, meet the sweetest people, and experience life outside of the states.“
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