Emily studied abroad in Florence, Italy. She is currently finishing her last semester at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and hopes to pursue a career in International Education.
Where do you go to school?
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
When and where did you study abroad?
I spent a semester studying in Florence, Italy in 2011 (AIFS).
What was the BEST part about studying abroad?
I adored the people I met in my time abroad and will never forget the amazing places I visited, but I think the thing I loved most at the end of the semester was feeling at home in a foreign city. I loved speaking Italian with the barista who made me a perfect cappuccino for breakfast every day, knowing the fastest way to get around Florence without encountering too many tourists, and becoming acquainted with the goose who lived under the Ponte alla Grazie on my walks home at night (he was very chatty).
What did you learn about the rest of the world from studying abroad? What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
Studying abroad really helped to contextualize the things I was learning about in school. It’s difficult to feel like you understand the intricacies of a culture without having personal experience within it and the opportunity to engage with its people; my semester in Italy definitely gave me that. It also awoke my travel bug and taught me that I’m much more capable than I initially thought myself to be.
What was your BIGGEST challenge while studying abroad and how did you manage to handle it?
The thing I struggled most with while abroad was juggling my studies and travel plans. I definitely made things a lot more difficult for myself in deciding I wanted to do well in my full course load while also seeing as much of Europe as possible, but my hard work paid off and I didn’t have to sacrifice more than a few nights of good sleep.
How did studying abroad change your life?
I learned the importance of adapting to your situation and that beautiful things happen when you lean into the discomfort you feel and overcome your anxieties. Study abroad demands that you step outside of your comfort zone and take chances. It is not always easy, but it is worthwhile.
What are your future plans?
I’m starting my final semester at UW-Milwaukee and will graduate in May with majors in English Literature and Italian and a minor in Global Studies. My experiences abroad have inspired me to continue exploring, both near and far, and to pursue a career in international education.
What’s your BEST piece of advice for someone who is thinking about studying abroad?
Do it, no matter what. I drained my savings account, took out a loan, and had to pick up an additional semester of undergrad for my semester abroad, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat (no, seriously, can I please do it all over again?). There will always be a million reasons not to go, but…if not now, when?