by Christa C.
Studying abroad is a very big deal. I’m not only learning how to cope with a new culture in Italy for four months, but I’m also taking classes at a new school, Florence University of the Arts, in places that sometimes take more than 30 minutes to find. Some people thrive faster than others, making friends quickly and what seems like almost effortlessly; some people feel as though they can merely survive. But everyone is different and that’s kind of the beauty of it all.
I think the most important thing I’ve taken away from this experience so far is that people are everything. I could have the time of my life and going to Budapest, Paris, Rome and all the other places I’ve dreamed of for years — but if there’s no one to share it with, then what’s the point?
My roommates have been one of the best parts of my experience because I know we’re all in this together.
When the hot water doesn’t work (sometimes for five days straight) or we get lost on the way to class in the many forks in the road, I know I can reach out to them and they want to help because they’ve been there, too. When someone has a meltdown after the jet lag finally sets in, and they realize there are five flights of stairs they need to climb every day, we all share in the struggle together.
I’ve found it’s easy to push aside the feelings of budgeting or ensuring that my credits transfer by telling myself “it’s no big deal” or “I can handle it.” But I have also found that it’s also an easy way to feel like you’re going to lose it at any moment.
After giving the easy way a try, I feel like I am big enough to admit that I can’t handle everything on my own and sharing my experience has lifted a huge burden off my shoulders.
Managing money is no easy feat; I even created a spreadsheet to help myself budget monthly expenses on food, travels and (let’s be honest, the biggest expense of all) shopping.
I FaceTime my family multiple times per week, eager to tell them about my spontaneous day trip to Siena, Italy, with my roommates or the future adventures awaiting me with people I’ve met on my program. Sometimes I just call to rant about how I got yelled at in the grocery store for not weighing my avocado and printing off the sticker to put on the bag so they can know how much it is. I don’t understand this culture because it’s different than what I’m used to, but that’s exactly why I came here and, every now and then, there will be obstacles on this journey.
Regardless of what the drawback may be, it’s necessary to talk about it so you can see it’s not just you struggling and get it off your chest so you can start to see how amazing this opportunity truly is.
Studying abroad is like uncovering a power that I have never known. But as we all know, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
There are many factors that make this experience hard and deterring, but there are unlimited moments that I will cherish forever because I pushed through it all with the friends and relationships I have made here in Florence.
About the blogger
Christa C. is studying abroad on the SAI Programs: Florence University of the Arts program in Italy.