Studying abroad so far has been an incredibly fast paced, overwhelming and exciting experience. I chose to study abroad because I love to travel and thought it was an amazing opportunity to study and immerse myself into the Italian culture I had studied all throughout my schooling.
I don’t think I realized just how truly special this experience would be until I arrived. Florence is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. Buzzing with tourists and traffic with a hundred things to do it was definitely my scene! Our university has been amazing to us. We’ve had no time to be homesick as they’ve taken us on so many tours and day trips and given us so many tips to fill in our spare time it almost feels like we won’t fit everything in!
I’ve been to incredible galleries, museums and churches I don’t think I ever would have had the opportunity to see without study abroad. Our guides have given us incredibly insight into the history and art of the town and it’s people with the best tour guides on offer. It’s honestly so much more than I ever could have expected. I’m no art enthusiast but when you are surrounded by such beautiful artwork and stories it’s an extraordinary experience and I find myself enjoying something I never thought I would.
In the short time I have been here I have already managed to see so many new places and traditions. Rome, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Naples and Pompeii are just the beginning! With our weekends free there is so much of this beautiful country that I plan to explore.
The most amazing thing was walking through Siena at the beginning of their Palio festival. The festival goes for four days and involves a horse race around the city with 14 horses (one representing each neighborhood of the city). The three days leading up to the race include practice races and the town is unlike anything I’ve seen. As we walked the streets there were large groups of people around every corner wearing scarves of their neighborhood around their necks and singing chants to rival districts. It was such a extraordinary experience, like a giant soccer match had taken over the town. I had never seen so many people so proud of where they come from to take to the streets every single year. It wasn’t just young people either. There were children parents and grandparents joining in and this was just the first day! I can’t even imagine how amazing the final day when the race was held would be. Apparently thousands and thousands of tourists and locals fill the town square for the festivities and to watch the big race.
Of course study abroad isn’t without its challenges. The language barrier and lack of google maps on hand has proven for a number of interesting adventures already. But the chance to meet and live with other students from ACU all over Australia has offered such an amazing group of people to navigate these challenges with. Trust me there is never a dull moment and I’m sure I have made new friends for life from this experience.
I am so excited to continue my study abroad journey. I could not recommend it more, it is truly an amazing adventure so different to just travelling through a country. I have learnt so much about not only myself but also this incredible country I have been lucky enough to live in and explore.