Alumni Spotlight: Lyndsey Sotwick

Why did you decide to study abroad at FUA with ISA in Florence, Italy?

Lyndsey: I decided to study abroad at FUA with ISA for a number of reasons, but the main one was location. I was fortunate enough to have traveled with my family to Italy right after graduating high school. We went to at least five different cities all throughout Italy, but Florence was love at first sight for me and I knew I needed to go back.

During my sophomore year in college I started to make moves on making my trip back a reality. At that time my university's study abroad office did not offer programs in Florence that involved business courses which was something I needed to do to meet academic goals. However, I did my research and found ISA's program at Florence University of the Arts (FUA) did offer the classes I needed to take while I was abroad.

I had taken a semester of basic Italian before I left for Florence so I could get by with simple phrases, but would still need to take classes in English. So another reason for my choosing this particular ISA program is that the courses I needed to take were offered in English. All of the extras that came with the ISA FUA program were a large factor as well in my choosing-excursions all over Italy, housing arrangements, an on-site ISA office with local staff, and everything else they had to offer!

One of Lyndsey's favorite spots in Florence, at Piazzale Michelangelo

What made your study abroad experience unique and special?

Lyndsey: Everything about my study abroad experience was special; I think that is what is so great about studying abroad, is that anyone who goes comes back with an experience that is entirely unique to them. One thing that was so incredible about my living in Florence is that I got to walk through history and local marketplaces every day.

My apartment was literally a block away from the Duomo and I could see the top of it through my bedroom window. The ability to see these kinds of things on a daily basis never got old and was something I always made sure to take a moment to appreciate each day.

The biggest thing for me though were the relationships I formed while I was abroad; my experience may have been completely different without them. The professors I had teaching my courses were some of the most interesting people I had ever met. One of them grew up in Iraq, then moved to England and was living in Florence at the time I was there, so having the chance to speak with her about current events was fascinating.

The friends I made in Florence became my second family, and still are even now that we have been home for almost two years. We would cook family dinners together, go out at night, travel through Italy and different parts of Europe, and explore all of Florence. Aside from the fact that I considered Florence my second home, it was unbelievably hard to leave because of the friendships I made while I was abroad.

I am still very close with much of my Firenze family, and we try to arrange reunions when we can. Also, with many of us living in different parts of the U.S., I now have a great excuse to travel to parts of the country I may not have thought of before.

Lyndsey with her roommates on the Ponte Vecchio

How has this experience impacted your future?

Lyndsey: Studying abroad with ISA has already impacted my life in so many ways and I know that it will continue to do so. I have obviously been personally impacted by the relationships I formed as well as catching a serious case of the travel bug. Ever since I left Florence, I have wanted to go back. Not a month goes by where my Firenze family doesn't talk about how much we want to have a reunion in Florence someday.

I personally grew so much while I was abroad with ISA and I think a big part of that was due to the fact that I went with a program that I did not know anyone in. I went by myself and learned how to put myself out there to meet new people and interact in an entirely new culture and environment.

Professionally, my studying abroad has led to so much. After returning home from Florence I found myself being incredibly passionate about encouraging others to study abroad which is why I applied to be a Global Ambassador for ISA. I could not ask for a better job- I get to reach out to students all over campus about my study abroad experience and help them find a program that is perfect for them.

Along with this I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work for my university's study abroad office as a peer advisor. Another job I absolutely love. My studying abroad with ISA helped me discover what I am passionate about. I now want to pursue a career in the travel industry, and more specifically, international education.

Lyndsey with other ISA students on an excursion to Lake Garda