What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?
I find this question to be the most common, yet the hardest to answer. My favorite memory isn’t made of one specific moment; it’s made of many. However, if I had to share one it would be coming back to Florence from my first weekend trip. Moving to a new place is difficult, moving to a new city in a new Country even more challenging. It’s hard to feel at home while learning where everything is, memorizing your new address, and attempting to navigate through a city that doesn’t speak your language. However, the moment I got to Florence from my first weekend trip in Vienna, I felt relief. I felt comfort, the strange city didn’t feel so strange anymore. I never thought I’d ever feel so at home. Every time I’d come back from a trip I felt more and more connected to Florence. The first time I was able to walk from the train station to my apartment all by myself was so exciting! I knew my way around and I have become acclimated to the Florentine lifestyle.
What did you learn about yourself when you were abroad? How have you changed?
Another cliché you hear about going abroad is that it changes you. I never believed it, until I experienced it. Going abroad has truly been the best thing I could have done for myself. I learned to take it easy, to let things fold out on their own, and that not everything is in my control. When traveling, something WILL go wrong, and your parents won’t be there to help you. This forced me to learn to stay calm, accept situations, and do my best to correct them. I was on a once in a lifetime journey, I wasn’t going to let a small issue such as a lost jewelry or a small argument with a friend ruin my experience. I learned to move on and let go in order to enjoy myself. It’s difficult to complain when you’re able to live out your dream and experience the world. Going abroad showed me the world is too big to worry about the little things.
What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?
I say with confidence that Florence, is the most beautiful city in the world. However, I didn’t think this right away. Whenever I found myself watching Netflix in my apartment, I’d remind myself that I’m living in a foreign city for a limited time, I had to explore it! Walking and observing everything became my favorite hobby. Everyday I would walk around the city for hours with no destination. I would go into small unfamiliar streets, I wouldn’t just look straight, I’d look up and down. I’d observe a building until I knew every detail. (Fun fact: every time you look at the Duomo you will notice something new and beautiful about it). I’d sit on the street and watch people. I’d take pictures of everything, after I took the time to appreciate it in person. By the end of my time abroad, not only was I in great shape and the master of navigating the streets of Florence, but I fell in love with a foreign city.
Gal was an SAI Florence fall 2017 student from Muhlenberg College.