Hannah H. studied abroad at one of our partner universities, Florence University of the Arts, in Florence, Italy during the Fall 2016 semester. Going abroad soon? Read about her adventures and advice below:
During the Fall semester of 2016, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy at Florence University of the Arts. I am currently a first semester senior who is planning to graduate in the Fall of 2017. Studying abroad was definitely one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. Not only for the sake of my future, but for the sake of me. I learned an immense amount of independence, so much about different cultures, and so much about my major, which is art.
While traveling the number one piece of advice I would give to anyone is to pack an extra pair of clothes in your carry on and to be open minded when trying new things. Whether this be while traveling around the country you are in to a new dish of food you would never have the opportunity to eat at home!
While in Florence I took any and every chance I could to explore the city and all of its authentic perks. Depending on where you go it could be very touristy, so I would highly recommend wondering around the less touristy areas to check out what all of the natives like. You will find the best places to eat, shop, and explore in those more authentic areas that don’t try to cater toward tourists. I believe it is so important to try to fall in love with the city you are, it helps prevent homesickness and sitting in your room all day. I know the thought of trying something new and exploring a new city can be scary, but the fact that you took the initial step to leave your native country to widen your studies should make you realize that you are capable of anything.
Now I would lie if I said I did not get homesick every now and then, but like I said the key is to stay busy and totally immerse yourself in the little world you will be living in. Also, constantly calling family won’t always make it easier. I texted my family a few times here and there just to see how they were. But to each their own, this might be very helpful to you! But the main key and goal while abroad is to make new friends, whether that be through your program, another program, while traveling, or native to the city you will be in! I promise it is so easy; you have a clean slate to be whoever you want to be! Take the opportunity to find who you truly are and to fall in love with life in a totally different way!
Another great coping device for any type of feeling you may have, happy or sad, WRITE IT DOWN. I kept a journal with me the whole 4 months I was abroad and it absolutely made a world of difference for me. I wrote in it every chance I could and put little knick-knacks in it from all of the places I went to! I made sure to keep most train tickets, stubs from events, pamphlets, and I made sure to get a postcard everywhere I went! Sometimes if I didn’t have my journal on hand I would write on a napkin about what I was currently doing or what I had done that day, and then shoved it into my journal the next chance I could.
I guess my last piece of advice, no matter where you go, be safe!! Always be aware of your surroundings, never walk alone at night, and make sure you have traveling buddies. If it is wrong or dumb to do in America, it pertains to wherever you go too! But lastly, have fun!!!! Take every opportunity you can! Take that cooking class, join a club if you have time, go to the museum, spend a little extra money on a great pair of shoes or jacket, take every opportunity you can to travel outside of your city, and most of all take every chance you can to step outside your comfort zone. Don’t go to sleep at night regretful of a decision you didn’t make. Always follow your gut, it will never lie to you!!! Safety first, and remember to have fun! Take a ton of pictures, wear comfy shoes, and most of all enjoy the amazing adventures you will have!!
Hannah took many art courses at FUA to come closer to completing her art degree at ISU. Since then, she has joined our Study Abroad/Faculty-Led team as a Student Office Assistant! She will be one of the student workers representing our office this summer, so be sure stop by and say hi!