Recently, I feel as though the majority of my past blog posts have been a tedious recounting of all the activities I’ve done and sights I’ve seen since I have arrived in Italy as opposed a more truthful reflection of my abroad experiences. Thus, for this blog post I’d like to give a more honest description of the past week.
The two and a half months I have spent in Florence have been some of the most rewarding of my life. I have seen places I never thought I would visit until I was much older and I have continually tried to expose myself to a new culture and adapt to a new way of living and learning.
To be honest that’s really all you can do as a study abroad student; try. There have been moments while being in Italy where I have felt extremely detached from my comfort levels and unable to assimilate into my new homestay community as well as my new academic community that operates differently from GW’s campus.
Yet each day I as awake to the beautiful early fall sunlight peeking in from the shutters in my room and hear the church bells of the Basilica of San Spirito , I remind myself that sometimes maybe the best outcome that can always arise from a new experience is simply forcing oneself to continually at least attempt to embrace new environments and new people, no matter how daunting or scary because that new environment can help you discover so much about yourself and build your endurance for years to come.
In the United States, there is an often invisible, yet heavily felt pressure on young people to feel that they are often only as good as the groups or ‘type’ we attach ourselves to; our sorority, our capitol hill internship, our hometown. I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, however, I am saying that while studying abroad, this “group” and feeling of belonging may not always come immediately, so prepare yourselves. Yet this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try to enjoy your experiences abroad. The truth is I, along with many other student abroad students I have encountered in Florence have said that making friends and adjusting to daily practices of living in another country independently have taken time.
So to all my fellow GW classmates back home and abroad I say this; Try! Try learning a new word in a different language, try eating a crazy food dish, try talking to a person that you normally wouldn’t, or simply put in the words of a student in one of my history classes “try to see what you are like while you are away from who you are”. Trying isn’t always easy, but believe me it makes you stronger!