You know how people always say things like "this changed my life" or how "unforgettable" something was? I am positive if you were to ask any student who went abroad with ISA, those would be one of many words they would use to describe their experiences.
I knew exactly where I wanted to go before I even began searching for my study abroad options, and that was Florence, Italy. And the program that offered the courses I needed to take to stay on track with my major was ISA. Before I left, I did take a semester of Italian 101, but that was just the basics. With ISA I was able to take all of my classes in English, and was able to get by very easily on a day-to-day basis with my broken Italian and miming.
This led to me studying abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy for two months during the summer of 2010. While there I took two classes (6 credits) at Florence University of the Arts (FUA). My academic schedule was set up so that the first three weeks of my program I would take one of the courses I picked, then had a week long break, and for the last three weeks I took the other course I had selected. Class was Monday thru Friday for about two and a half hours each day. It was intensive study because it was during the summer, however I never felt bogged down by school work and had plenty of time each week to spend time with friends, enjoy meals with them, go out at night, explore the city and travel on the weekends.
I lived in an apartment with four other girls that were a part of my program who were from all over the US. Being in this kind of living situation (with more girls from our program next door) led to me coming home with ten new best friends; or as I call them, my Firenze Family. We now try to have reunions once a year which gives me more reason to explore the US. Our apartment was about a twenty minute walk from our classes, but that was not a problem at all-I was walking through history every day, and passed by local marketplaces and restaurants. It was one of the coolest parts of living in Florence.
My entire experience going abroad was a highlight, but here are a few that stand out:
-Italian food and wine. Need I say more?
-The ISA staff: both on-site in Florence and at headquarters in Austin always make themselves extremely available to their students. They make their job to make you as comfortable as possible in preparing to go abroad, while you are abroad, and keep in touch with you when you come back. I could not have asked for a better support system than the one that ISA provided.
-ISA Excursions and Traveling: I loved getting to see new parts of Italy every weekend that were just a train ride away. And being able to utilize my week break to travel and explore Spain.
-Again, getting to walk through history every day.
-Picnics at Piazzale Michelangelo.
-"Family" dinners with ISA friends.
-Going to the Palio in Siena.
....I will leave it at that because I know how lengthy this is becoming. You get the idea? I had an INCREDIBLE time and had a new highlight every day of my trip. The biggest struggle I had during my study abroad experience was leaving Florence. It was like going through a break-up, except with a place.
Since coming back I have found a passion in telling others about studying abroad and helping them to go abroad. I also have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a Global Ambassador for ISA, and am also now a peer adviser in our university's Study Abroad Office. Thanks to all of these amazing experiences I am now extremely passionate about pursuing a career in the international education/travel industry.
Thank you ISA for all that you have done for me!