Dear self, while I know that you normally hate cliches, I think in saying studying abroad has changed my life for the better, would perfectly sum up my time here! In the last two months I have learned so much about the culture of Florence, and how to properly navigate the world as an international traveler. The classes that I have taken here through CAPA have done a great job at properly equipping me with the tools to necessary to explore and get to know Florence, not as a tourist, but as a temporary inhabitant of the city. Before studying abroad, when I was traveling I would see the city, but would not truly get to know the city. My “Exploring Florence” class taught me a lot about the importance of getting to know these places for more than what tourist traps you fall into. Experiencing the city the true inhabitants experience is equally as important as learning about the art and architecture that initially draws the tourists in. Through this, I have learned to use a different approach when traveling. Speaking to the locals about where they like to spend their time, and learning about their experiences is crucial in truly getting to know a city. The city would not exist without its inhabitants! Another lesson that I am taking away is how to slow my life down to appreciate my surroundings. My typical approach of moving at 100mph to keep up with the pace of life is not always what is most beneficial in the long run. The Italian culture of slowing it down is something that has left a big impact on me. Life will keep moving whether you want it to or not, but in order to actually feel like you are living you have to slow down and appreciate the journey. In addition, I have also learned how to compartmentalize my assignments and responsibilities! I tend to get myself worked up when I have a lot of responsibilities that are due, which leads to unnecessary amounts of stress. When studying abroad, you do have lots of responsibilities, but this experience taught me how to properly manage my time in order to decrease the stress and increase the enjoyment of studying abroad!
I have learned and grown so much over the last 2 months. Something critical that I have picked up from traveling is that you simply do not have to do it all. It’s great to be ambitious with your traveling and to have plans, but do not overwhelm yourself to the point that you can not enjoy what you are seeing. Make a list of the highlights that you know you want to see, and leave time in your plan for the unexpected journeys that you may stumble upon along the way. Don’t run yourself into the ground! Being so exhausted that I can’t appreciate what was around me is a lesson that I quickly learned and grew from.
Something that surprised me about this process was how easy it is to travel throughout Italy. I have heard from others that the train and public transportation system was unparalleled to the United States, but I didn’t really believe this until I experienced it for myself. To my surprise, it truly was just as easy as they had said! I quickly became comfortable with using the train systems, which made traveling a breeze.
As my program draws to a close, I have really enjoyed taking the time to reflect on these lessons and can see the growth in myself that has been subconsciously accumulating these last 2 months. I am so excited to see what lies ahead in the last couple weeks of this program.
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