I have decided I’m going to use this blog post as an opportunity to be very real and honest. I am beyond grateful to be here and have this opportunity in Florence, however, this has been the most difficult transition of my life. These past two weeks have been very hard on me mentally and physically and it’s something that I want to bring attention to. There are emotions I’ve experienced that I was completely alarmed by and unprepared for, so I’m hoping I can talk about that and help someone in the future.
The minute I got accepted into Florence University of the Arts, I was beyond ecstatic, and then immediately put those excited emotions to the side. As someone who struggles with anxiety and also is a huge overthinker, I knew I would have to approach this semester cautiously.
I felt as though if I thought about this amazing trip too much, I wouldn’t be able to focus on everything I had to accomplish at home. This seemed like a good idea at the time, and I was quickly proven wrong when I arrived in Florence. Since I didn’t allow myself to experience the excitement and pre-adventure jitters, I also didn’t experience the natural stress and anxiety of leaving home and everything familiar for four months. So, when I got to my apartment in Florence, not only was I jet lagged and motion sick from the trip, but I was also hit by a wave of emotions. I felt so alone and overwhelmed by everything because I didn’t mentally prepare for this journey the way I should have. So, if you’re thinking about studying abroad, it’s scary and exciting and that’s the way it should be. Let yourself feel and process those emotions because that’s how you’ll end up getting the most out of your experience.
Overcoming this wave of emotions and culture shock is something I am still in the process of doing and I have a feeling it will be a continuous effort. Thankfully, SAI is such an amazing program that has been nothing but kind to me about this. They offer sessions with a therapist in Florence who is absolutely wonderful, and I’m so thankful to have this resource. Mental health is so crucial and if therapy isn’t your thing, finding another outlet is important to do while in this new and unknown space. That’s something that I heard before I left but didn’t take seriously at all, so I’m hoping sharing my experience will help someone else have a smoother transition. I’m beyond excited to continue this journey that I’m on and better myself along the way.
Samantha is a fall 2018 SAI Florence student from Grand Valley State University.