By Kyra Laurie, Photography Director
Do you know those people who study abroad and spend every waking moment talking about their experiences? *Dramatic camera pan* That’s me. I’m one of those people. This past summer, I lived in Florence, Italy for six weeks. The hardest thing about studying abroad is coming back and trying to explain everything that happened in just a few short sentences. Or, in my case, before the person I am talking to mentally checks out of the conversation after hearing me say “gelato” at least 10 times. That’s why I am going to sum up my experience with four words, in no particular order.
Chaotic: Although visiting any unfamiliar place comes with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, I can easily describe my experience as complete and utter chaos. As soon as I got off the plane in Florence, it was as if I lost my footing completely. Imagine you just woke up in another country where you did not know where you were, didn’t speak the language, and didn’t know what in God’s name you were doing. That was me. Every. Single. Day. But, on the bright side, there was a gelateria every couple doors.
Adventurous: Each day I spent abroad was an adventure and always consisted of something new and exciting. A consistent theme was doing almost everything on a whim! One of my closest friends and travel buddy, Elizabeth Hertz, and I had a tendency to execute our plans extremely last minute. Did we decide to visit Paris only a day or two beforehand? Yes. Did we plan our two-day visit to London while on the bus there? Absolutely. In my opinion, these last minute decisions created the most incredible memories that I will never forget. But my favorite decision on a whim would have to be cliff jumping. There were absolutely no plans to go cliff jumping, but there it was– right in front of us! Elizabeth and I did not waste a single moment before climbing up this slippery cliff and jumping off – a perfect ending to our trip abroad.
Delicious: Italy has the freshest and tastiest dishes in the entire world – and that’s a hill I am willing to die on. I had pasta for days. Trofie, linguine, lasagna, tagliatelle, penne – you name it, and I had it! This was accompanied by a variety of sauces including red, meat, pesto, alfredo, etc. Every restaurant you encountered offered a variety of pasta, pizza and other authentic Italian dishes. Not only did I eat amazing food, but I also had the opportunity to make both pasta and pizza. I cannot describe how crazy it felt to learn how to make these authentic dishes from professional chefs that grew up making them! Anyway, I’m starving now.
Rewarding: Most importantly, my time abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I lived in an unbelievably beautiful city surrounded by such welcoming and lively people. I was able to immerse myself into the language and culture on a daily basis, typically embarrassing myself along the way. I would do absolutely anything to return to Florence and live there for the rest of my days! Until then, I encourage anyone and everyone to travel. You will learn so much about yourself and what the world has to offer! Don’t miss this opportunity and take a chance.