The Importance of Skill Development in Florence

Throughout my time studying abroad, my experiences have definitely given me skills that I can use in my program and beyond. One of the very first soft skills I learned was adaptability. The skill of adapting to changes was inevitable, because I had to practice it from the moment I stepped into Florence. As a study abroad student, we have the choice to succumb to the culture shock and revert to American ways, or to make conscious efforts to adapt to our environment. The transition was never seamless or easy, but the challenge always comes with learning benefits and resilience. Another soft skill I believe I have developed is communication— with teamwork and problem-solving alongside it. Studying abroad has introduced me to people and personalities that I have never directly experienced, and that can come with major differences. When I start where other people are coming from and bring it back to myself, it becomes easier to be an effective communicator. Teamwork has also been necessary in both group projects and travel planning. Both group projects and travel planning require different levels of teamwork with people of different backgrounds. I’ve learned some of my most valuable lessons and skills when facing challenges on trips with people abroad.

I do not have an internship abroad, but I could say I’ve gained the hard skills of Italian language knowledge. Living with a host family has given me more opportunities to practice my Italian and help others with their English. For example, I’ve gone into my host family’s university classroom to talk about my experiences and practice English/Italian conversation with the students. When navigating cross-cultural situations, I was originally embarrassed to not know enough which prevented me from learning experiences. As I’ve grown in the program, I’ve learned that confidence, authenticity, and a true desire to learn is appreciated and welcomed in cross-cultural situations. I’ve definitely grown in my confidence and world-view because of this, and it’s made my identity more well-rounded. I feel so much more prepared to approach new cultural situations- and I view it as a chance for connection rather than something to be afraid of. My interactions with different study abroad students have also impacted my identity. I have learned a lot about appreciating major personality differences and keeping myself open to connecting with others. That lesson has given me lasting connections that I would never have if I hadn’t internalized this lesson and opened myself up.