Fun in Florence
Noah, SAI Ambassador, 2019
September 18, 2019

My friend, Aidan, visiting me from his own study abroad experience in Northern Italy

What was your favorite class abroad and why?

My favorite class abroad was Culture Shock: Cross-Cultural Psychology. To start, there is no reason this should have ever been my favorite class. I study Communication and randomly took a Psych class as an elective. Plus, it was at 9am every Tuesday morning… Not quite the set up for a wonderful time. Yet it changed the course of my entire semester. I met my three best friends in the obnoxiously pink walled room we were taught in. The first week I saw someone who looked like a fun person and I made sure to sit next to them week two. It may have been the best decision I made all semester! We ended up becoming each other’s closest friends and introduced each other to our roommates and formed the absolute best group to hang out with all year! I cannot recommend enough to get out of your comfort zone and talk to the people around you in your classes. Everyone in those rooms are going through the same crazy experiences you are, and it’s so much easier to bond and relate than you might expect. Who knows, you may even meet your best friend at 9am like me!

Having fun with friends in front of the beautiful Santa Croce church

What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?

My favorite thing to do in my host city was go to a serene little park on the Arno River that ran through Florence! Life can get pretty hectic when spending the semester in a foreign city. It’s easy to get caught up in all the daily stressors and things that aren’t going so well. This little park offered a get away from the rest of the world. It was a chance to “get out of the city” without literally leaving at all. Sometimes I would go down there alone and lay out on a blanket with my headphones just relaxing. Other times I would grab some food with my friends and have a picnic. Whatever it was, it continuously filled me with joy and helped me remember what matters in life!

Mari & I at our favorite Tuesday night tradition — Live Beatles cover band concert

What advice do you have for any new study abroad students?

Say “yes” even when you don’t feel like it! This is easily the most important thing I could say to anyone. There were so many moments where I felt worn out and just wanted to stay in my apartment and do nothing. Yet, I would barely choose to say yes and succumb to my friends wishes to go experience the city with them. I never regretted this choice a single time. It always seemed to be those moments when I regretfully went out that I had the best time of my life. The world has a funny way of rewarding you when you get out of your comfort zone and fully embrace the unknown.

Mari & I enjoying our day trip in Cinque Terre, Italy

What does your study abroad experience mean to you?

My study abroad experience means the world to me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I can’t express enough how it was worth every cent it cost, every painful moment experienced, and every moment missed back at home. Studying abroad is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and it has proved utterly invaluable to me. My semester in Florence taught me so much about myself and others. It honestly scares me to think of how I would be so much less experienced and matured had I not gone. I count it as one of the biggest blessings of my life and want everyone in college to take advantage of this crazy experience you’re being offered.

The Arno River running through the center of Florence at sunset

Noah was a spring 2019 student from the University of Missouri.

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