Take Advantage

Studying abroad was always something I was unsure of whether or not I would do. I hadn’t put much thought to it during high school and when I was sitting in my freshman seminar class 3 years ago, watching a presentation on study abroad, I still was indecisive on the whole idea. Scared to even think about leaving behind my friends, family, and familiar surroundings for a whole semester, I had never been away from home for that long. I am not sure how I decided to study abroad or even when. I guess it was a decision that was made by my subconscious, telling me that if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity I would regret it for the rest of my life, as many do.
I have been studying in Florence, Italy for almost two months now, and feel very adapted to the Italian culture but also very aware of the American culture. When you are placed out of your own culture it not only exposes you to different norms and behaviors of that country, but also to your own. Much of your ethnocentrism diminishes and you become more aware that other cultures do exist, not just your own. Florence has shown me things I would have never learned from a textbook. People here communication differently, drive, eat, walk differently, and I glad that I get the experience of living in it and not just being a tourist for a week.
Being in Florence feels like going back in time. There are no modern ugly buildings, skyscrapers, or department stores anywhere, just pure renaissance style surrounded by the picturesque hills of Tuscany. Different churches and bell towers cover the city and walking past The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) everyday still doesn’t seem quite real. In my opinion, there is no need to step in a museum in Florence; the small city is an open-air museum in itself with different art and history to be discovered at ever corner.
In addition to emerging myself in the Florentine culture, I have the amazing opportunity to travel to other European countries such as Germany, Spain, France, and Hungary. Without my subconscious pushing me to make this decision to study abroad, I would have never had the opportunity to live and travel for 4 months in Europe. At times, I wondered if I made the right decision for myself, but as I continue to live and grow in Italy I know that I have.
Of course I miss home. But as I write this column, I am currently sitting on my roof top terrace looking over the Duomo, as all the different bell towers in Florence chime for noon. When will I have this experience again or this nice of a view? To all contemplating whether to study abroad, go. You will discover culture, beauty, and discover new things about yourself.

Mulberry Ink

A lifestyle blog about travel, food, wanderlust, DIY, photography, and happiness.

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