Being abroad for only a few weeks has already been a life changing experience. I have now been in Florence, Italy for exactly two weeks and have already accomplished more than I could have even imagined. This trip has been a whirlwind of chaos, excitement, and nerves and I could not be any happier. Leaving the day after the end of the semester was something that was very stressful, from trying to move out of my dorm and back into my family’s home, to packing up my stuff to live in a foreign country, on top of studying for finals is something that I would never have imagined accomplishing, but I did.
I left for Florence on Saturday, May 7 and arrived Sunday morning into Rome from Chicago and then proceeded to take a train from Rome to Florence. Arriving at the hotel on my own was intimidating, but once I got there, everyone was friendly and welcoming. My program is set in Florence for six weeks and there are about thirty people participating. Together, we all stay in a hotel which is on the top floor of a building that has amazing views of the center of Florence.
The Florence Summer Program consists of each person enrolling in two of the three course options offered: Italian Language, Renaissance Florence, and Drawing. My choice of classes are Italian Language (specifically FRIT-M 200 since I have already taken the two previous language courses) and Renaissance Florence. The structure of the classes are even better than I imagined and they promote such a positive and engaging learning environment.
My language class consists of myself and three other students and we have class on the rooftop of our hotel. The scenery is breathtaking and the small ratio of students to teacher is something that I have never experienced previously and I think it has helped me feel more confident and engaged in class, creating an excellent environment for learning. In these two short weeks I feel like my Italian has already improved tremendously.
My Renaissance class is a class like no other. Each day for class, the group of us walk around to different museums and churches for an interactive and mobile environment. Professor Ciccarelli is extremely knowledgeable on every landmark, painting, sculpture, etc. in the entire city and his teaching style has helped me focus and learn so much about the Renaissance period in this beautiful city.
My goal for the remainder of this trip is to immerse myself in the Italian culture as much as possible by speaking to locals wherever I go, adventuring into small shops that tourists often do not venture to, and to visit Italian cities that I would not typically go to on a vacation. Additionally, I plan to travel as much as possible within and outside of Italy in order to see and understand even more cultures and groups of people. Without this experience abroad, I would never have the opportunity to look at a map of Europe and say “Where do I want to go this weekend?” and I cannot be more excited to see where my adventures will take me.