Kristina Kaufmann – Global Correspondent
Studying abroad was always something I was unsure of whether or not I would do. I hadn’t put much thought to it during high school and when I was sitting in my freshman seminar class three years ago, watching a presentation by Lena Berc, I still was indecisive. Scared to even think about leaving behind my friends, family, and familiar surroundings for a semester, I had never been away from home for that long.
I am not sure how I decided to study abroad or even when. I guess it was a decision that was made by my subconscious, telling me that if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity I would regret it for the rest of my life.
I have been studying in Florence for almost two months now, and feel adapted to the Italian culture but also aware of the American culture. When you are placed out of your own culture it not only exposes you to different norms and behaviors, but also to your own. Much of your ethnocentrism diminishes and you become more aware that other cultures do exist, not just your own.
Florence has shown me things I would never have learned from a textbook. People here communicate differently, drive, eat, walk differently, and I am glad I get the experience of living in it and not just being a tourist for a week.
Living in central Florence feels like going back in time. There are no modern ugly buildings, skyscrapers, or department stores anywhere, just pure Renaissance style surrounded by the picturesque hills of Tuscany. Different churches and bell towers cover the city and walking past The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) everyday still doesn’t seem quite real.
In my opinion, there is no need to step in a museum in Florence; the small city is an open-air museum in itself with different art and history to be discovered at ever corner.
In addition to myself in the Florentine culture, I have the amazing opportunity to travel to other countries such as Germany, Spain, France, and Hungary. Without my subconscious pushing me to make this decision to study abroad, I would have never had the opportunity to live and travel for 4 months in Europe.
Of course I miss home. But as I write, I am sitting on my roof top terrace looking over the Duomo, as all the different bell towers in Florence chime for noon. When will I have this experience again or this nice of a view? To all contemplating whether to study abroad, go. You will discover culture and beauty and new things about yourself.