I believe that one of the most enriching experiences that I have had abroad thus far has been in my Italian Food, Culture, and Society class. I encourage anyone who goes abroad to see what classes the university offers in order to really learn about the culture in which you are living. My class has been about the way Italians interact, eat, and their history. It has been closely rooted in Tuscan traditions and I have enjoyed getting to learn so specifically about my home away from the States.
Lucky for me, my university in Florence offers a multitude of Italian culture classes that revolve around anything from language to chocolate. I knew that it would be important for me to take a culture class prior to going abroad because I know that sometimes it can be difficult to immerse yourself in a culture when you are so easily surrounded by classmates who are also American, also studying similar things, and also have a desire to travel while they are abroad.
More than anything, to those of you thinking about going abroad, really take the time to get to know the country in which you are living. It’s so easy as Americans to get caught up in traveling Europe when you are abroad because many of us don’t have the opportunity being so far away from many other continents. It can be difficult if you are studying in a place that have a different native language than you are used to. Ask questions. Get to know the locals. Smile at people – it’s the same in every language.
Sarah is a Fall 2017 SAI Florence student from the University of Kentucky.