Three things that I have learned about myself since traveling abroad

I have learned a lot about myself since traveling abroad. I have also learnt a great deal about Italy, Italians, studying abroad, food, wine, traveling, etc but I think it’s what you learn about yourself that is most valuable when traveling and studying abroad. The three things I learnt about myself are:

  1. How much I enjoyed being independent and living with four ‘roomies.’
  2. I love to travel and have learnt that I really want to explore all of Europe.
  3. I am extremely lucky to live in Australia.

1. While staying in Florence, I stayed in an apartment with four other girls. Living in apartments allowed us to be independent, but also to take responsibility for taking out our own trash! We stayed in an apartment with two bathrooms, a kitchen, a lounge room (sort of) and shared bedrooms for two. Remembering to buy our own toilet paper was probably our biggest struggle, and at times of forgetfulness, made for some very awkward and funny situations! We did our own cleaning, cooking and shopping which taught me a lot about time management, team work, leadership, budgeting and food. We would try to have themed dinners on some nights – like taco night, chicken night and risotto recreation night where we tried to recreate the risotto we made at a cooking class a week earlier. Taco night was a dinner highlight with about 15 people gathered in an apartment for a Mexican feast. We had tacos, burritos, beans, spiced chicken and a whole lot of other Mexican food fit for a siesta! Of course with some great Italian wine as well for some cultural fusion!

Living with some friends and being able to be independent was an incredible experience that exposed me to a different way of living and managing my time.

2.  Travelling to Italy was incredible and I loved every minute of it, but the trip has made me desperately want to explore the rest of Europe. Italy is so similar, yet so different to life in Australia. There’s a completely different sense of time and space in Italy. Italians place a different value on time, thus structuring their days differently. In Sydney, many supermarkets and stores are open till late every day, and in some cases open 24 hours. In Italy, there was barely anything opened 24 hours, and many things weren’t open till late – you had to plan ahead and be organised or just make do without something you need at a late hour. This enabled us to place a greater importance on time spent with friends during dinner, something that I feel doesn’t have such a great significance placed on it in Australia.

Staying in Florence has heightened my appreciation for great food, and made me all the more excited to discover what other cuisine Europe has to offer.  I’ve always had a great love and appreciation for food, but Italy brings that love to a whole new level. I can’t wait to be inspired by all the food the rest of Europe has to offer!

3.  While I have loved travelling and studying abroad, and I can say that studying in Florence has definitely been one of the greatest experiences of my life so far, there’s still no place like home. In Australia, we are blessed and lucky enough to have an outstanding quality of life. It is only once you travel and visit countries very different to Australia that you can truly appreciate everything we have. Our road rules are definitely something I’ve come to appreciate; as the driving in Italy is quite different. I’ve also come to appreciate our doctors and nurses and amazing healthcare system – not that Italy didn’t have great facilities, but Australia places so much significance on health and has an exceedingly great system and it can be under-appreciated sometimes. Most importantly, I missed schnitzel and chips at my local RSL every Sunday, and we’re so lucky to have that too!

I’ve learnt a lot while traveling abroad and think it’s an absolutely invaluable experience.