By Kelly Konrad (Linguistics and French & Francophone Studies ’20).
During the summer of 2018, I spent a month studying in Florence, Italy, where I took Italian language and art history classes at LinguaViva, an institution designed for international students. Spending time studying in Italy was the best choice I’ve made so far as a student—the lessons I learned and the knowledge I gathered there is invaluable to my studies and my life in general. I was acclimated to the nuances of Italian culture, the rich history of the country and the language, and amazing people who live there. But above all, I gained a sense of independence I never had before.
Transitioning from high school to college obviously came with greater freedom as I was away from my family , living on your own for the first time. This independence, however, is nothing compared to what I experienced from studying abroad. Exploring the city and living with an Italian host family, I had to rely on a language that was not native to me and begin to understand cultural differences that hadn’t occurred to me before; it helped me understand my own beliefs and culture on a deeper level, expanding my understanding of myself. Another key piece in developing my independence as both a student and young adult was being frequently met with new decisions, an intrinsic aspect of going abroad. It was also an excellent practice in enjoying exploring a new area on my own, coming to terms with the city at my own pace.
In all, my time in Italy has served as an invaluable experience to me in becoming an independent person, and has given me a greater appreciation of everything around me.