We caught up with SAI Ambassador Lillie, who talks about her summer in Florence.
What did you learn about yourself when you were abroad? How have you changed?
I grew up traveling with my family both in the U.S and abroad so before I left for Florence I just assumed my mindset throughout the term and just general attitudes would be the same as a vacation just with a couple classes added on…. it was so different than anything I could have predicted and I am so thankful for that. I came to Florence not knowing anyone from home, and I underestimated the amount of trust I had to give both to myself, the process of meeting people and growing accustomed to living in, not just visiting a foreign country. I learned so many life lessons and it was a very natural and healthy way to help me understand various parts of the world that I never would have been exposed to and a level of taking care of myself that the typical college student in the U.S does not experience. I feel like I have become much more of a well-rounded person in a way that only my experiences, host city, and friends I made while abroad could have taught me.
What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?
My favorite memory from studying abroad, was probably being able to wonder with my friends around dinner time and going to rooftops and watching the sunsets. Florence is a city that has so much to offer constantly but can also feel quaint when you want it to, walking and wondering was one of the most rewarding parts; it helped us learn the city so much better and made living there feel natural and like we were local. The friends I made while abroad were so willing to adventure and learn about Florence that it made the little things even more fun and it ensured that I took moments to just appreciate the uniqueness and characteristics of Florence that you can only find there.
How has studying abroad changed/shaped your future career goals?
Studying abroad has given me a much greater understanding on global Communication/Marketing practices that are beneficial in so many arenas. My professors offered a very versatile approach to topics that are sometimes not given the same amount of emphasis in an American classroom. I loved being able to hear their stories/experiences both in the workplace and in school. Having this new global studies experience has made me not quite as fearful of entering the workforce soon and a new level of confidence when talking to potential employers and those that are experienced in the field I am pursing a degree in.
What advice do you have for new study abroad students?
Take full advantage of any opportunity while there!! Weekend trips and just walking around after class were highlights that helped me acknowledge and learn from the culture differences and the cities I was visiting. This was a summer that I will never forget and one that I learned so so much through both in the class room but even more so out. The people and places that I visited and met gave me more perspective, and drive than anything I could have ever done back home. Also do not be hesitant of studying alone, this was the best decision of my entire experience because it forced me to meet people who go to schools across the US and just made the experience that much more exciting and sweet. I know that I will have a connection with people all over forever from this experience… I never thought it would have the impact on me that it did and I am sure that Florence will forever keep a little piece of me.
Lillie was a summer 2018 SAI Florence student from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.