I have only been studying abroad in Florence, Italy for a month now and I can say that it wasn’t exactly what I had expected at first. The culture shock is real, and it makes you question the normal routines you have compared to the average Italian, but after this month I can say that I am beyond happy that I took this opportunity and stepped out of my comfort zone. In my opinion, Florence is the best place to study abroad in Italy because it is so welcoming and beautiful, and a great place to live and learn about the Italian culture. I’ve only had one class so far, which was an Italian beginner course that I encourage you to take first if you are studying in Italy only because it really did help me with the language barrier tremendously, but so far abroad I have traveled to Milan, Venice, and Rome. It is not a lot but enough to say that studying abroad truly is a once in a lifetime experience and if you are given the chance to go you should.
During our two week spring break I and my friend Hanna traveled to Venice for three days and Rome for another three. When I tell you how beautiful and amazing it was I mean it. While in Venice, I was immersed in a festival that Italians celebrate called Carnival and it was amazing. In the simplest terms, it’s Halloween in Italy. Many wore costumes of their favorite characters, while others dressed up as historical figures. Both Hannah and I loved it. We loaded our camera roll with pictures and bought carnival masks to attend. It was beautiful, I rode in a gondola and visited St. Mark’s Church and Dolce Palace. I learned a lot like did you know that Venice sits on 118 islands and before 1588, if you were born on any of the islands that was your home for the rest of your life because they had no bridges to cross.
Our next stop Rome was breathtaking and hands down my favorite so far. If I had to choose a different place to study abroad, it would be Rome. The atmosphere and sights are definitely what won me over. I saw the Colosseum and learned about gladiators and how they trained at schools for the games that would last for a duration of 100 days. The Roman ruins which I could sit and gaze at for hours from the Palatine hill. St. Peter’s basilica, which was so beautiful and held one of Michelangelo’s famous statues of the virgin Mary holding Jesus and this is the only statue signed by Michelangelo as it is said that at the time people did not believe he created it as he was only 23 years old and nobody knew him that well. The Sistine Chapel, you can’t take pictures inside, but it’s beautiful and everyone should see it. I also got to see some of the Vatican Museums, because it is too large to see in one day, which I found interesting, and got to see some statues that were actually from the Colosseum. I saw the pantheon that use to be a place to worship the gods and walked the Spanish Steps. It was so educational and the food was so delicious. If you’re going to study abroad, I’d definitely put Rome at the top of the list.
During spring break, I lost myself in the history and wonder of Italy and found myself waking up with excitement to learn something new. It was a big change for me to study in Italy and while over here, I have found new independence, something that I thought I already had, but after these experiences, I realized I didn’t. I have always been shy and content with the routine I had for myself back home but being in Europe and seeing and experiencing so much I have gained a new appreciation for myself and others. Indulging in this newfound independence and becoming the best version of myself. I decided to study abroad to shake up the routine I had for myself back home and coming to Europe really did open my heart and mind to the possibility that nothing is impossible.
Written by: Jordyn, Florence Spring 2023 student from University of South Carolina