What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?
My favorite memory is having met some really good friends from both the Netherlands and Germany. Prior to going abroad, I did not expect to become so close with people outside of the United States and Italy. After spending months with my new friends from Europe, I became so appreciative of their culture and how they shared it with me. We ended up traveling and hanging out together the whole semester. This really opened my eyes and had me fascinated with the difference in cultures across Europe. My new friends and I bonded over both our similarities and differences. I will always hold on to our funny memories. I now have friends to visit in Holland and Germany!
What did you learn about yourself when you were abroad? How have you changed?
I learned while studying abroad that I am more independent than I once believed to be. I am capable of doing more things on my own. Before going abroad, I always had a really hard time adjusting to change — a start to a new semester, moving homes at school, new classes, new friends, etc. I used to love the comfort of having the same daily schedule with the same people around me.
Going abroad forced me to step out of that comfort zone and to make my own schedule, even if that meant not knowing what or where the next weekend was going to be. When I came back to the United States, I realized that I developed a new level of comfort with being able to adapt to change. Most importantly, I learned that for the most part, change is what helps you grow as an individual.
What travel tips would you give someone studying abroad?
One of the best travel tips I could give to someone who is about to study abroad is that you should absolutely take advantage of the trains in Europe. When I was studying abroad in Florence, I preferred to take the train to my weekend destination, even if that meant sometimes doing it alone. Not only is it good experience to learn how to travel solo, but the views are spectacular. Personally, I did not mind the 7-12 hour train rides to a new country.
I was so overwhelmed by the changing scenery through Europe — it is also fun! I promise the long hours of traveling on a train is worth it. Another tip for studying abroad is that you should not feel pressured to travel to a new place every single weekend. Soak up the city you are studying in because there is always so much to see. Don’t forget that the city you are studying in is important to travel through as well!
Charlotte was a fall 2018 Florence student from College of Charleston.