Prior to studying abroad, I did tons of research on the city I would be living in, how to travel within Europe economically, and sought out advice from a friend who had recently completed the same program I was doing. I asked so many questions, both to my friend and boss—whose family is from Italy. I googled what the weather would be like, how expensive it is to eat and shop in Italy, and the best places to visit on the weekends. I became obsessed with doing research on my future home!
I had extremely high expectations. So many of my favorite movies highlighted scenes shot in Italy, and that’s exactly how I pictured my life being once I got here. Now flash forward to where I am now, I can confidently say that I have not been let down at all by Europe. Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I find myself thinking, “I can’t believe this is where I live”. This whole experience has felt surreal. In two short months, I have seen more than 10 cities within Italy and four countries outside of it. Time is flying by, and I am on a mission to make the most of my experience here.
Of course, with traveling comes some struggles. Many people deal with homesickness, difficulty adjusting, and other issues. However, I have not come across any of these issues, so I am extra grateful! My family jokes that they are worried I will not come home—unfortunately, I had to book my return ticket already for visa purposes… One thing that surprised me about Italy is how drastically the weather changes when you move from the north to the south. The first weekend here, I traveled to Milan and Bologna and completely froze because I was used to the warmer and sunnier Florentine weather. The same goes for traveling in northern Europe. Something else that came as a bit of surprise is how touristy Florence is. There are over 10,000 students studying abroad here, so almost everybody speaks English. Although this can sometimes be comforting, it is also a bit frustrating when you are trying to learn the language and you do not have much opportunity to do so. My complaints are extremely minor and cannot compare to the incredibly time I have been having abroad. With a positive mindset, you can overcome any challenges that come your way!