Overcoming Obstacles Overseas

Ciao from Firenze! It’s hard to believe that I have already been here for a month! Adjusting to my life in Florence has been smooth. However, with any new experience, there are always going to be things that are uncomfortable and take time to adapt to. Something that has been challenging is adjusting to this unique work-life balance that comes with the territory of being a study abroad student. Juggling my assortment of responsibilities has been difficult. There are so many things that I want to do as a study abroad student, including traveling and seeing the sights within Florence. Adding to the list, my courses and my responsibilities to my internship, has resulting in me changing the way that I manage my time. Typically, I am a student who puts a heavy emphasis on prioritizing school, trying to complete deadlines far in advance. However, in this environment the way I balance school and life has been a bit different. I am still putting an importance on schoolwork, but the balance has shifted. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I am putting a heavier emphasis on going out in the city and enjoying new cultural experiences, vs staying in and working an assignment ahead of time. The work will still get completed of course, but a large part of this learning opportunity is experiencing a new way of life. In order to do that, you have to prioritize experiencing your host city and traveling! As a typically high-strung student when it comes to school, this was a mindset that I did not have coming into this experience, but I am glad to have adapted to it.

Within my internship, adapting to this unique global work environment has also been smooth sailing. My global internship experience has been unique. One of my bosses was originally from California, and one of my bosses is Italian. Therefore, strengthening my cross cultural communication skills has been easier than it otherwise might have been. Since I have two perspectives to learn the communication customs from, with one being an American herself, the learning curve has been a little flatter. However, where some ambiguity arise is in terms of how the marketing techniques, trends, and audiences differ from the United States. My internship is primarily centered around developing the social media brand presence. Therefore understanding my audience and the current trends to target them is different in Italy. In addition to this, I am comfortable with targeting an audience that is around my age. However, the majority of the customers for my company are in older generations. In order to overcome this challenge, I am putting more diligence on researching our audience in order to learn the techniques that would be most successful in growing our brands presence.

Adjusting to Florence, outside of work and school has been an exciting experience. And not at all stressful! As someone who is extremely comfortable with packing up and moving in a moment’s notice, being away from home has not been bad! I know that everything will still be at home when I get back, encouraging me to live every moment to the fullest here, without remorse! In terms of navigating Florence, this also has come easily. I have actually found the public transportation system of Italy to be easier than in the States. From my experience, everything *actually* runs on time! This makes exploring the city and traveling a breeze! 

There undoubtedly will be more challenges along the way. However, I feel prepared with skills that I’ve grown through this experience thus far to tackle these challenges and grow from them!

Attending a pasta making class with the CAPA program!
Exploring the Piazza Michelangelo at sunset.
Attending a Fiesole soccer game. Cheering, dancing, and chanting with the crowd!