One of the main motivations for me to study abroad was my mom, who moved to the United States from Italy when she was just 12 years old! As I was growing up, she would always tell my and my siblings amazing stories about her time living there and how different it was than living in America. What my mom told me, combined with how much my brother loved his study abroad experience, I knew this was something I had to do and experience for myself.
Even though I was confident that I would be able to adjust to Italian life without any hiccups, I did feel a little out of place and out of my comfort zone upon arrival. Adjusting to the culture and the Italian way of living definitely took some time. In Italy, people are a lot more relaxed. Especially in heart of Florence where we all were located, everyone walks so there is not much traffic. This means that everyone is trying to go where they need to be, yet they do not stress about it. One thing I learned very quickly is that people take their time when walking. This is very different from the American way, where people are hustling and bustling, trying to get where they need to be as soon as possible. Among this, there were many things I had yet to learn. This was the first time I lived on my own, which meant that I had to cook, clean, and shop for myself. I also had to be aware of my roommates’ needs as they also were trying to cook, clean and shop for themselves as well. This meant I had to communicate well and be sensitive to their needs. The experience not only taught me how to take care of myself, but also how to budget my money since I wanted to see much of Europe. Through this experience, I learned a lot about myself and how to handle certain situations, in addition to learning more about the world and other cultures.
I would say one of the best parts about studying abroad was the ability to visit multiple countries with some of my best friends. Since we did not have class on Fridays, we had the opportunity to visit different places around Europe since travel was so cheap! We would try to plan our trips at least a week and a half in advance, as this is when flights would be at their cheapest without having to plan months in advance. My last class ended at 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoons, so we would pack the night before because the adventure would begin as soon as my class ended! We booked flights out of Pisa, which is about an hour train ride west of Florence. The Pisa airport is bigger than the one in Florence, meaning flights were a lot cheaper.
Studying abroad was hands down the highlight of my college career! I would highly recommend that everyone at least looks into studying abroad to determine if it is possible. Through study abroad programs, you experience so many things outside of Grove City College which you may never have the opportunity to do again. Everyone says they like a good adventure–so why not have the adventure of a lifetime! If you are interested in studying abroad, reach out to the Office of Global Programs to learn more!