As the semester comes to a close and each day I look at Christmas decorations being put up at local cafes and restaurants, I keep asking myself in what ways do I think this semester abroad has been rewarding and have I achieved all that I planned to achieve before I came here?
In response to the first question, I can definitely say that I feel the most rewarding part of my semester abroad has been my homestay. As an African American studying abroad in Italy and as an African American participating in a study abroad program that includes roughly only 20 minority students out of a total of approximately 200 students, there were definitely moments during my time here where I felt.... lets just say…..lonely and isolated from the cultural experiences I am accustomed to. In some ways, this is not a bad thing because being able to immerse myself in a culture different from my own was exactly what I wanted to experience while abroad. However, the neighborhood that reside in Florence is also not very diverse, and after while it feels weird that some days the only other black person I see is Olivia Pope while watching Scandal on Hulu.
Yet, inspite of this cultural difference my host mom always makes sure that feel fully welcomed and included and although sometimes communicating with my host family can be a bit of a struggle, I now feel that I can say I have adapted well to daily living in Italy.
Another way in which I feel the semester has been rewarding has been through my classes. The courses I have taken at The Syracuse University Florence Center are all very Florence-interactive. By that I mean that almost every week, I not only learn in the classroom, but I also am able to participate in site visits to incredible museums, artisanal shops and markets. For example, last week my Politics in Italian Literature professor took us on a tour of the Boboli Gardens and this past Thursday, my Italian professor took my class on a tour of a shop that crafts objects with metal. Without these in site visits, I doubt that this semester abroad would have been as incredible as it was.
So although my days are numbered in Florence, I feel grateful that in just three months, I have learned and seen so much and I am assured that I will still be able to have a few more great experiences before I leave.