For as long as I can remember I have been waiting to travel the world. Before coming to Florence I had never been to another continent and felt as though I was greatly lacking cultural diversity and experience. From the moment I got to the airport, I was overcome with excitement to begin this next chapter in my life. I love my home university and my friends there, but I was never nervous about leaving or missing a semester. Instead, I view studying abroad as a once in a lifetime opportunity, having high expectations that it will be one of the best semesters of my college career. Choosing SAI as the program to go through was almost as easy as my decision to study abroad. I had heard so many positive past experiences, saw how many activities and excursions SAI had to offer within the program, and felt comfort in how hands-on the staff is. Since arriving two weeks ago my roommates and I have already begun planning and looking forward to upcoming SAI activities such as cooking classes and the day trips to other towns around Florence.
So far, the obstacles I have encountered seem minuscule compared to the experiences I have gained in only the first two weeks. Typical to adjustments that have to be made when moving to any new country, things such as the language barrier, cultural norms, and the time difference have all been challenges. Learning the cultural norms and adjusting to the time difference have both improved greatly in the past two weeks, however, I am still overcoming the language barrier. One thing that has surprised me about Florence is that it has been much easier than I expected to communicate with the locals and shop owners, however, trips to the grocery stores and pharmacies prove to be a much greater challenge. While I am sure I will start to recognize the labels of my regular products with time, so far it has been difficult to find apartment necessities and ingredients to cook. This week I am hoping to overcome this challenge by visiting the San Lorenzo market to get all of my fresh meat, produce, and other ingredients all in one place.
I feel an immense appreciation when I think of how my personal outlook has changed, as though Florence has helped me notice and appreciate the little things in my daily life that I never had before. A few things that come to mind are the breeze across the river as I walk over the Ponte Vecchio on my way to class in the mornings, the smell of fresh pastries flowing out of the bakeries, the beautiful window displays of the designer stores, the incredible food and enjoying long meals with new friends. In addition to an appreciation for the little things, I also have a greater appreciation for different cultures. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be immersed in Italian culture and to be able to learn about how their way of life differs from ours.
Jocelyn Minich is a spring 2020 Florence student from the University of South Carolina.