Week 5: Expectations vs Reality

Before going on my study abroad trip, I did not know what to expect. I had an idea of what my experience abroad would be like. I knew I was going to be in Florence, Italy taking two courses: Biochemistry and Food, Culture and Society. I had originally thought that both of my classes were going to be located on one main campus and that my life abroad would consist of me going to and from school to my apartment with only time for local traveling during the weekends. With such small expectations, I was in for a big surprise.

Upon my arrival to Florence, Italy, I came to quickly realize that the university I was studying in, Florence University of the Arts, did not have one main campus where all the classes were held at. Instead, the classes were scattered throughout the city. At first, the concept of having to walk 10-15 minutes from one class to the next seemed so bizarre because back in the states I was so used to having all my courses localized in one area, but after a while, I became accustomed to it and incorporated it as a part of my daily life. Also, I had originally thought that my classes were going to be mixed with students from USF and Italy. But, that was not the case. I never met any Italian students.

Besides school and the academic part of studying abroad, the whole experience itself really changed me as a person. It is unbelievable the amount of personal growth I endured while abroad. To begin with, before coming abroad, I considered myself a more shy and conserved person. However, through this journey, I roomed with eight other girls in my apartment and in my room there were four girls including me. I was always surrounded by people, therefore, I was always interacting with someone. The same scenario in my classes, due to the small class size, I felt more comfortable to try and get to know the people sitting around me.  After six weeks of constant socializing, I have definitely strengthened my social skills and I do not feel as awkward approaching a new person and talking to them. I left the study abroad program with a lot of newly made friends from all over the country, including many USF Bulls.

In addition to becoming more social, I also feel more cultured. I did a lot more traveling than I had originally expected while I was abroad. I went to Rome, Pisa, Cinque Terre, and Venice (all cities in Italy). I also did a lot in Florence. I saw the Statue of David, I went to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, I toured the Florence Cathedral, I ate lunch at the Plaza Michelangelo and so on. I tried so many wines and learned a lot about the local history.

Overall this study abroad trip was a blessing and it exceeded all of my expectations. Words on paper can only do my experience so much justice, that I highly recommend others to go and experience this for themselves. Ciao!

Exploring Florence, Italy

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