This post is from student blogger Sandra Collopy from Saint Michaels College, English and Media Studies Major studying in Florence, Italy.
I chose to study abroad in Florence, Italy because of everything Italy has to offer – the culture, language, art, food, and landscapes. I came here to learn and to study what I’m passionate about. I’m taking Art History, Travel Writing, Second Semester Italian, The Italian Grand Tour, and Wine Tasting. The classes open my mind a little bit more every day, and I get to see my textbooks come alive in the streets of Florence.
I get to take an active role in my education. But beyond that, I came to learn more about myself through the lens of another culture, and through the experience of traveling. It’s like stepping back in time here in Italy, every building is hundreds of years older than any I’ve seen before. Around every corner is another historical landmark that steals my breath away every time. The language barrier used to be intimidating, and now as I’m learning it, being able to pick out words in overheard conversations has become comforting and interesting. Coming back from weekend trips to other countries like France and Belgium, hearing Italian on the airplane has become a reassuring feeling.
Coming into studying abroad, I wasn’t sure this experience would be right for me. I wasn’t sure Florence would be right for me either, as someone with a quiet demeanor I wasn’t sure I’d fit in with the expressive Italians. I waffled between studying somewhere in the U.K. like Ireland, but I was pulled to Italy for some reason. It’s completely out of comfort zone, but after living here I’ve found that I’ve never been more comfortable in a place.
I’ve learned that as you learn about a place, you learn a lot about yourself. As you discover more around every corner, you see another side of who you are. I get the purpose of travel now, the Earth is beautiful but when you see things for the first time your eyes grow wider. Your memories grow and turn into stories and the things you see shape who you are and who you’re going to become. Seeing becomes an addiction. You cherish every moment of traveling, even the times you almost miss your flight or fumbling trying to communicate in the country’s native language. It surprises you every time you take off in an airplane, or feel the train tracks start to rumble beneath you, or when your feet walk through European streets.