Studying abroad, as my teachers always say is mainly about the “studying” part. I agree to disagree with this statement. I think that this adventure is more about learning rather than actual studying. Moving to a different country, living with people who you don’t know, going to a new school and exploring the world is a major learning experience in itself. Yes, studying for your classes is very important, but I have learned more by experiencing life during these past four months, than I ever could have in a college class.
I decided to study abroad solo and have random roommates, so that I could get a completely fresh and new experience. I highly recommend doing this. It is fun to travel around with your friends from home, but something about going on a trip with people who you have just become friends with is amazing. Studying abroad forces you to step outside of your comfort zone and try things you haven’t before!
School abroad is unlike anything I have ever experienced. CEA offers so many opportunities that help to amerce ourselves in the Italian culture outside of the classroom. In all of my classes, we go on field trips often to explore different parts of Florence and connect it to what we are learning. These hands on experiences make it fun and more interesting rather than sitting in a two hour lecture each day. A few of my favorite field trips that I have been on are going to a Parmesan factory in Modena, visiting the Gucci Museum, and attending art exhibitions for my photography class.
I have learned so much and I have grown as an individual by traveling to other countries on the weekends. Starting with planning the trip; this takes patience, organization skills and practice. The first trip that I went on was a mess, and took forever to get the trains, flights and accommodations lined up. I have learned from all of the mistakes that I have made while planning the perfect weekend trip.
Meeting people who are from Italy, or from the countries that I am visiting during the weekends, is one of my favorite parts of traveling. It is so interesting to see the cultural differences between all of the unique places. Trying the distinctive foods from each country is another thing I love to do!
I think more than anything, I have gained independence while being abroad. When I am attending school in the states, my family is just a short two-hour drive away if I need anything at all. Now, because of the time difference, I can only communicate with them at certain times. At first this was hard to adjust to, but now it is normal and has helped me to learn to not be as dependent on others.
Samara R. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Florence, Italy. She is currently a Junior studying Retailing & Consumer Sciences at University of Arizona.