It is so hard to believe my time here has almost come to a close! We have about two weeks left of class, then final exams, and then the program is done.
Studying abroad has given me the opportunity to live more independently, far away from everything familiar. From being dropped in to an entirely new culture, to not hearing your native language very often, to suddenly not knowing anyone – it has been quite the learning experience. It feels pretty similar to the first few months of college, except you know you have to make the absolute most out of every limited moment.
Given the incredibly opportunity to travel all around Italy and even throughout Europe, I feel much more culturally aware . Whether I was traveling with a group of friends, with my boyfriend, or even by myself, I feel like I have much more confidence in my ability to handle myself while traveling.
Although it sounds trivial, I wish I would have gotten better packing advice before leaving for my program. When people told me to only bring the bare minimum, I should have listened! Shortly after coming here, everyone quickly realized American fashion makes you stick out like a sore thumb, and a few weeks in to the program you won’t want to wear any of it. I also wish I would have realized just how cold it would be. It is April, and most days still require a fairly heavy jacket.
During this global experience, I really surprised myself with my quick adaption to the Italian way of teaching. After a few semesters of zoom classes, coming to Italy and being expected to sit through 3 hour classes at least once a day seemed like a large adjustment. To my surprise, I actually now enjoy having this block schedule and feel like I learn a lot more. While it is a bit harder to pay attention, the mid-class espresso break always helps! The teaching style itself also seems much more effective to me, most lecturers focus more on interaction rather than just reading from their own slides. I will be interested to see which I prefer after returning to classes at Pitt.
I am also surprised at how I have learned to use my time. I try to do something different everyday, and am getting close to checking off everything on my bucket list. Of course it’s great if I have a companion to join me, but I also have no problem exploring on my own. If there’s something I’ve really wanted to do, like hike from the city center of Florence up to the hilltop town of Fiesole, I just go and do it myself! These types of experiences have been a great growth opportunity in their own way.
I can’t wait to see what great experiences the next few weeks bring!