A Fresh Perspective
Madison, Florence, Spring 2017
April 5, 2017

My time abroad in Florence has been incredible thus far and I have loved documenting my travels, but for this blog post, I decided to interview someone else to hear their perspective on being abroad. With that being said, I interviewed my roommate, and also fellow SAI student, Shelby S. about her experiences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I’m from Washington State, 21 years old and I have a fish named Herb back at home who I miss very dearly. I grew up in a small town where occasionally a cow will break lose and trot down the main road. I love all things food related but mostly coffee. Some humans were made to function before a cup of coffee in the morning and I missed that gene pool.

Shelby playing with the locals she met in Amsterdam.

Were you nervous to study abroad?
I was very nervous to study abroad since my first international flight was actually on my way here. What was I going to pack? Would my luggage make it? Am I dressed like a nerd? I had that moment of cold sweat panic before I got on the plane where I considered turning back, but then I remembered there is no refunds in aero-plane-land for last- minute decisions, so I hopped on board for my greatest adventure yet. Oh also for the record, TSA does allow you to carry a fish through security but after a sit down discussion with my mother, Herb is in a nice condo at his grandma’s house for the semester.

Shelby enjoying a beautiful, sunny Florence day at the Piazzale Michelangelo.

What made you choose Florence?
I am an absolute history freak. Being in the heart of the Renaissance every day has been incredible. Every walk to class is an award-winning view of the Duomo, statues that greet you in the morning and the smell of cafes wafting into your nose. No wonder Da Vinci and Galileo were so inspired to create masterpieces. It also inspires me to do masterpieces of my own, like homework.

Shelby and her 5 other roommates (including me!). One of Shelby’s favorite things to do is to have roomie dinner nights with her friends.

What’s your favorite part about Florence?
I love Florence in the morning. When vendors are having a chat before they set up, shop owners are stretching before opening their doors, cafes putting out fresh croissants. Everything in the morning time is an old world kind of slow I think we lack in the US. Everyone starts their day when they feel like it, not by a number on their clock. If you have the chance to wander the streets of Florence before it becomes flooded with the business of the day you might find yourself a small slice of heaven. Or cake. Or maybe those are two the same.

Shelby walking through the streets of Florence.

Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled thus far?
If you ever find yourself in Europe, you absolutely have to go to Amsterdam. I know what your first thought is and NO, it doesn’t hold true to its reputation. Amsterdam is incredibly rich in history and especially in culture. With over 170 nationalities living within its borders, Amsterdam is home to more than just stroopwafels (look this up and drool). What most people don’t know is Amsterdam was the richest place in all of Europe at one point since the Dutch invented a little something you may have heard of before; stock exchange. Every corner of Amsterdam is riddled with a shop or restaurant with a unique personality and a huge smile waiting to be discovered by visitors all around the world.

What has been the most difficult thing for you thus far?
Do not leave your phone unattended in Europe. Ever. I don’t even have to go into detail for that one.

Shelby loves to immerse herself in different cultures by trying various new foods!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten abroad?
One word. Kebab. Ask me four months ago if I knew what a kebab was and I would have said no, ask me now and find me sprinting down the street with four euro clinking in my pocket because someone just said “kebab.” Watching them shave meat off a huge meat stick thing is a little frightening at first but the taste…wow. The closer you get to Turkey, the better the kebab. The one I had in Budapest was one of the best culinary experiences I’ve ever had. My best advice is to not ask what they’re piling on top and slapping inside of it, but just sink your teeth in and enjoy with mulled wine on a chilly day.

What has been your favorite memory?
I love making dinner with my roommates. When we all pitch in on roomie dinner night to talk about our week and enjoy a feast together in our little apartment I couldn’t be happier!

Shelby loves to make her friends laugh by “photobombing” pictures in different ways at the Notre Dame in Paris. 

What will you miss most?
I’ll miss sitting on the steps of the Piazzale Michelangelo eating homemade paninis overlooking Florence. Crazy to think how a couple of girls from Washington get to share some of the best memories of our lives on those steps.

– Kara is an SAI Florence spring 2017 student from Washington State University.

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About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.