A semester in Florence showed me how real Italians live
All of my family members are creatures of habit. But despite our yearly trips to Disney World, I always knew I was destined to travel the world more extensively. Even as a child my favorite park was
Epcot theme park because I got to explore the world, seas and beyond…
In high school, I was lucky enough to take a couple of trips to Europe with other students from my school and I was hooked. When it came time to apply for colleges, a major focus of mine was to only apple to schools that offered a travel abroad program and ultimately my decision would hinge on the university that offered the best study abroad program. As the end of my sophomore year at Fairfield University approached I was thrilled to finally apply to study in the one place I knew I was destined to live: Florence, Italy.
Taking on the challenge of an internship along with my classes allowed me to learn a lot about the culture and lifestyle as I worked alongside locals. While I took some basic classes in Italian, I realized early on it would not be enough to fully immerse into the city life. I was very lucky when I was placed in the production office of the Florence Opera House. With my basic Italian and their introductory English, we were able to get along quite well.
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The internship gave me the opportunity to become independent. Being a stranger in a new city, I often stopped for coffee or a meal at a café on my own, which I would never have done before. I tried out my Italian (which to this day is still pretty terrible) when I could, and I learned the back streets. I spent a lot of time walking by the Arno River to get to and from class and cutting through the Piazza Santa Croce. I was often stopped by tourist asking for directions and they were relieved when they realized I spoke English. I learned to live in the moment and make the most of every opportunity given to me.
By the end of the semester my internship coordinator was shocked to learn that I had never taken the bus anywhere, even though my office was 20 minutes from my apartment. Instead I had chosen to walk, even in the rain, because I wanted to take as much advantage as I could of seeing the different parts of the city.
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Traveling abroad afforded me a unique opportunity to gain confidence and independence to be on my own. Beforehand I would never have ventured out for walks in an unfamiliar city or even attempted to eat a meal alone. By the time I was ready to head home, I no longer viewed life as an obstacle course to get through, but rather saw everything that was presented to me as a chance to learn something new and enjoy life.
I truly started living a life of no regrets; trying new foods, meeting new people and exploring new places. Best of all, I no longer think twice about planning a new adventure on my own.
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