Why did you decide to study abroad with LinguaViva in Florence, Italy?
Back in 2006, I went on a family vacation to Italy. We stayed mostly in Rome, but went on a few day trips to surrounding cities, one of those cities being Florence. I cannot explain the feeling I got when I toured Florence, other than one of complete awe. I was so drawn to the architecture, beauty and charm of the city. I could not believe that so many great works of art could all be within ten minutes of each other. I knew that a few hours in Florence would not suffice and I told my parents that I needed to come back.
Sophomore year of college was when I began researching study abroad programs because I already knew that I wanted to go abroad the spring of my junior year. I only wanted to go to one place, Florence. Unfortunately for me, my college seemed to offer study abroad programs in just about every other city around the world, except for the one place I wanted to go. That was not going to prevent me from going to Florence, so I researched for a while the programs offered through other colleges. I found one that went through LinguaViva and applied as early as I could. I was immediately drawn to the LinguaViva program because it is a small school that attracts students from all over the world and offers so many excursions.
What made studying abroad a unique and special experience?
My study abroad experience was unique because I went through an American college’s program to LinguaViva. There were about 25 students in the program, and while we were housed with students within the program, we attended classes with other international students. The first person I met and ended up befriending at LinguaViva was from Venezuela and another friend I made was from Sweden. I would have never imagined that the school would have been so diverse. What made it even more interesting was that we learned the Italian language and culture together. The staff at LinguaViva was incredible. All of my teachers were excited to teach us Italian and always gave us advice on things to do around the city.
Every day was a new adventure during my study abroad experience. There were so many more museums in Florence than I even imagined. My friends and I always tried to do weekend excursions to neighboring towns or cities. And the food. I cannot even begin to explain how delicious real Italian food is. There was no food that I missed from back home. I consider myself somewhat of a picky eater, but while in Italy I wanted to try everything and was never disappointed.
The people I met in Florence, were so warm and welcoming. I enjoyed having conversations with shop owners, restaurant owners, waiters, my neighbors etc. My Italian is nowhere near perfect, yet people were so patient and would talk to me so I could understand and practice the language. Even walking down the street people would say “buon giorno” or “buona sera”. I just felt so cheerful and so at home in such a big city.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Personally, I have made so many new friends that I would have never even met had I not gone on this program. While I have a whole new group of American friends, who I see all the time now, but also I have made some international friends (thank goodness for Facebook). My time abroad, as cliché as it sounds, made me grow as a person. You cannot move to a country across the world for five months, without your parents or anyone you know, and come back the same person.
I learned how to be an independent adult and how to be responsible. I learned how to accept a whole different culture, and learn how to adapt to that culture. I miss the Italian way of life so much now because it taught me how to slow down a little and enjoy the short life that we have. Italians value family and the time spent with family. My friends and I would cook big meals together and actually spend the time eating and enjoying each other’s company, rather than the usual American way of eating on the run.
After being in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and being surrounded by great works of art, I came back to school this fall and decided to add Art History as my second major. While I had planned on attending law school beginning in the fall of 2012, I decided that I wanted to take a year off and try to get a job in Florence (hopefully) or in a museum, since my love for art as grown dramatically. I am now extremely interested in pursuing a career in art law and have been looking at law schools with programs to fit my interest. Florence will always hold a special place in my heart and I miss it every day.
My friends at home say that I have “study abroad over-share syndrome”, which may be true, but when you had some of the greatest experiences while abroad, it’s hard not to talk about it.