I have been abroad about two months and I honestly don’t know where to begin. My time in Florence, as well as in the other countries I have visited, has been an experience that is hard to put in words. I feel as though jumping into different cultures and identifying with that of my culture in the U.S and Florence is something that not many people are able to understand. This experience has been amazing, fun, but challenging at times. It has been one that has allowed me to grow as a person and it is going by so fast! I can’t believe I just finished midterms!
I have found that my love for Florence grows each week. This may have something to do with the weather becoming much nicer (it was 75 today!) compared to early February (the coldest winter Florence has had in 30 years!) or it may have to do with the fact that this is an amazing place I am just starting to explore. I enjoy the people I meet both from Italy as well as my fellow study abroad classmates. My courses have been overall enjoyable in that I find them interesting and I enjoy most of my teachers (even though they are a little more work than I was expecting). The food, as everyone knows, is amazing. I have definitely gained the freshman fifteen and now need to hit the gym hard for the rest of my time here.
Each country I have visited has had a different culture, different language, and an overall different way of life. I have found that being in these countries for only a few days poses a challenge to assimilate into these cultures. Although it is a challenge, it has been one I have enjoyed. I have had the privilege to be in Dublin for St. Patty’s Day, see the Lennon Wall, go up the Eiffel Tower, experienced Carnevale in Nice, and been to cooking class in Florence.
As you may have read before, I had many goals and worries before departing for my study abroad experience that ranged from the host language and culture to travel plans to roommates. After reading my post from January, I thought about what goals I have accomplished and how accurate I was in predicting what my life would be like. My first goal was to “travel as much as possible” during my time here. I am proud to say I have accomplished that thus far. Almost every weekend I have either visited another part of Florence or another country. After a month and a half I have been to five different countries aside from Italy including France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, and the Czech Republic. The French Riviera, Dublin Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, Pisa, Chianti, and all over Tuscany are just some cities to name a few. I also have plans to visit Morocco, Budapest, Greece, Rome, the Almafi Coast, Cinque Terre, and Venice. However, fter so much travel, I find myself craving more time in Florence. Many of my travels have me departing Thursday or the early A.M Friday and returning Sunday which leaves me with only a few days in Florence that is filled with homework, classes, and attempting to take in the culture! Although each and every city was amazing in its own way, my biggest regret is not spending more time in Florence. If you are reading this and are studying abroad in the future, take my advice and make sure you are in host country for more than just a few days at a time! Don’t travel every weekend! It was one of my main goals pre-departure, that I have accomplished, but looking back, was not the most important thing about studying abroad.
Another goal I had was to really put my all into learning Italian. Although my past attempts at learning another language failed, I am proud to say I am starting to feel confident with my Italian. I am in a specialized “service learning” Italian that focuses more on everyday phrases and grammar that I would need in my time here. We have talked about tabacchi, restaurant, bar, and grocery store etiquette. We discuss food, asking questions, and grammar that pertains to everyday life. It has helped me converse with people around Florence, consequently buffering my confidence and helping me learn.
Lastly, I was worried about my planning skills. Never have I ever had to plan a trip by myself. It has taken some time but I am finally starting to feel as though I know what I am doing when I book hostels, flights, whether I should by tickets in advance, etc etc.
Overall, I have enjoyed my time in Florence and can’t wait to see what the next two months bring! I also feel as though I still have some goals to completely fulfill. My pre-departure goals and ideas were somewhat accurate to what I have experienced but I have learned a lot of things to tell my friends studying abroad next semester.
March 27, 2012
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