What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?
My favorite memory was traveling to Budapest, Hungary for Spring Break with a few of my friends. I randomly ran into my best friend from middle school while I was there, and we explored Budapest together for the entire weekend. It was incredible, and she ended up coming to Florence to visit me later in the semester! I will always remember that trip for my chance encounter with a great friend and the memories we made there.
What is your most memorable interaction with a local in your host city?
My most memorable interaction was with an Italian waiter named Stefano who worked at a wonderful restaurant called Accadi in Florence. My friends and I ate at this amazing restaurant a couple times a month and we got to talk with him and learn a little bit about the language each time. He knew exactly what we would order each time and considered us regulars to his restaurant. I miss Stefano dearly and hope to visit him when I visit Florence again!
What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?
My favorite thing to do in my host city, Florence, was to hike up to Piazelle Michelangelo to watch the sunset and listen to live music. My friends and I would stop by the grocery story before going up, and we would pack ourselves a picnic with Italian cheese and wine. The view is stunning and a great way to see the entire city. The lights of the little buildings light up the city and the sunset reflects beautiful colors off the Arno river. We would sit up there for hours, talking about our week and about upcoming travels. We would stop for gelato on the way back or a delicious Italian meal. Any time a friend or family member would come visit me, I would take them to this beautiful place and they always said it was one of their favorite memories as well.
How has studying abroad impacted your life goals?
Studying abroad impacted my life goals because I now want to work and live abroad after college as a graphic designer. Without this experience, I never would have made these goals or had the courage to leave the States and put myself outside my comfort zone. I definitely caught the travel bug, and hope I can travel to a new place each year and experience different cultures.
How did your experience abroad make you think differently about the US? What made you feel most foreign abroad?
My experience in Italy made me reflect on my time there and also the culture here in the US. I absolutely loved the slow pace of life in Italy and how the Italian people truly know how to live. They make time for family and friends, enjoy delicious meals together, and seem to have a great work-life balance. I have taken these values to heart and try to be more thoughtful in my every-day actions like the Italians do. Additionally, other than the language barrier, the thing that made me feel most foreign abroad was the way I dressed. By the end of the semester, I was wearing much more neutral-colored clothing and bought a nice scarf and leather boots to help me fit in.
Jaelyn was a spring 2019 Florence student from Colorado State University.