Many people who have studied abroad return back to the States and joke about how “abroad changed them” as it takes time to adjust back to their normal lives; now being halfway through my study abroad experience, I can confidently say that studying abroad will “change me”, but in the best way possible. Living in Florence in this unique environment has allowed me to gain so many new skills and experiences that I will carry with me as I return home.
One of the more prominent transferable skills that I have been working on is independence. This is a skill that I have developed throughout college at Pitt as living on your own, even in a dorm or apartment off campus, is an adjustment, but learning how to navigate a foreign city on my own has allowed me to further develop my independence. There are many aspects of living abroad that have allowed me to do this: navigating the city and being comfortable going out and exploring on my own, finding ways to communicate with locals, and being comfortable reaching out for help or guidance when I need it. Living with 11 other roommates has enabled us to all improve on our communication skills to maintain a pleasant living environment. It has also prompted my roommates and I to work on our problem solving skills, which come in handy during weekend- or day-trips when things sometimes don’t go quite as planned. I have also developed a deeper understanding of budgeting and making well-informed financial decisions through planning weekend trips and becoming more aware of all of the costs that go into traveling.
Taking the Italian language class here has greatly assisted in navigating the culture as it helps with communication and prompts a more authentic understanding of Italian life. Learning the customs and traditions has been necessary to establish an appropriate routine, but has also been really interesting to learn and expand my knowledge of the culture. There are some customs that I hope to bring back home with me, including some of the authentic Italian recipes I have learned, and other customs that I will miss, like aperitivo and having a cafe accessible on every street corner. It has even been an exciting bonus to get to exchange traditions and parts of our American culture with the Italians as well as some of my own roommates and friends in the program who attend different universities and grew up in different parts of the country. As cheesy as it sounds, I would be really upset if studying abroad didn’t “change me” and I am proud to return back to Pitt with a stronger sense of independence and a more global perspective.
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