Development in Florence

Studying abroad has helped me develop many soft skills. For me, an important one has been adaptability. Since coming to Italy a few of the things I have had to adapt to have been moving to a new country, adapting to a new routine for classes, sharing a room with someone else, and having to walk much more rather than being able to drive somewhere. For me, these were major changes to my life when I first got here. In Pittsburgh, while my parents did live 5 hours away, by car, in New Jersey, I always knew that if I needed anything my parents were always there for me, and something could easily be mailed to me from home. I also would usually try to have a similar schedule every semester so my routine usually didn’t change too much. Since I didn’t like early morning classes or night classes, I tried to have all my classes between 11 am to 5 pm. Additionally, an even bigger change was having to share a room with someone. I never had to share a room with someone before so doing it for the first time as a Junior in college was an adjustment. I had to learn to communicate better with my roommate and to be more flexible with my roommate to avoid any conflicts. In the past, I did live with other people, but I usually still had my own bedroom and so not having my own space was also something I had to adjust to. My apartment in Florence is very small and I am sharing it with 3 other people, so it has been important for us to communicate when one of us needs alone time. Therefore, just by moving to a new country and living in a new apartment has led me to develop my soft skills of adaptability and communication.
Another change I had to adapt to was living in a country where the primary language was not English. Most locals do know a little bit of English but there have still been situations where the language barrier made it difficult to communicate clearly. This has forced me to be more thoughtful about what I say when speaking to an Italian so that it is easier for them to understand me. I think when interacting with my friends or other students in my program it isn’t as important to consider if they will understand me. However, when interacting with Italians, I avoid any complex words, or slang and I like to make sure what I say is as clear as possible so that it is less likely for there to be a misunderstanding.
Overall, my experience while studying abroad has really helped to push me outside of my comfort zone. I’m usually somewhat shy towards people I don’t know and having to force myself to interact with locals who don’t understand English very well has helped me become a lot more confident.