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For this month’s post, I interviewed Rachel Epner, one of my roommates from Florence, to see what she’s been up to post-study abroad and to ask her some questions about Florence and her study abroad experience!
EMILY KEARNS: Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’ve been up to post-study abroad and post-grad!
RACHEL EPNER: While in Florence, I was looking for an internship for the summer coming back home. I found and was accepted to an internship at the Manhattan DA’s press office - where I ended up interning for a year - and was ultimately offered a job at after graduation! I’ve been working for the DA’s Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and External Relations.
EK: What were your thoughts as you sat on the plane from Florence back to the U.S. after your semester ended?
RE: That never in my life will I have this abundance of freedom again. Not trying to be sad or sappy, but in my opinion, that part of my life was full of experience and transformation due in part to only having to worry about myself. No expenses, no work, no family, just me.
EK: What do you miss most about Florence and your study abroad experience?
RE: CONAD! I had an infatuation with the idea of buying groceries in Italy and making my own food. But, while we’re on food, the food and ritual practices I miss. I miss the traditions of the Florentine people and the slow-paced environment.
EK: What was your favorite part about the CAPA Florence program?
RE: CAPA offered amazing courses taught by extremely intelligent professors. Learning from them was an absolute pleasure.
EK: What impact did Florence (and study abroad in general) have on you?
RE: Learning how to take care of myself in every way. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
EK: If you could go back to Florence for just one day, what would you do? Have you been back/do you plan to go back soon?
RE: I have not been back to Florence, although I dream about the city heavily. If I went back for one day, and wasn’t currently vegan, I would prance around San Antbrogio Market with my roommates, eat dinner at Il Pizzaiuolo, drink as much espresso my body can handle (in a healthy way) and hike in Fiesole.
EK: Share your absolute favorite memory from your time in Florence.
RE: This is a toughie. I believe I shared this in my last CAPA interview, but still rings true: my roommates and I were coming back from Interlaken, our first trip away from Florence. We were all tired, hungry and cranky from a long bus ride and couldn’t wait to flop into our beds. Walking from the train station, which is usually stressful to navigate through because of all the people, walking through Florence never felt so sweet. It wasn’t until we approached the Duomo on our walk back home did I feel like we were back where we needed to be. The moon was out and the Duomo was lit up. My roommates and I screamed, “I’m home!” We held each other, stared up at the old, old building and truly treasured the space we were in.
EK: Looking back at your study abroad experience, is there anything you would have done differently?
RE: I really do believe that I indulged in every experience Florence could have offered me. The one thing I do wish I did more of would be to have integrated with more Italians.
EK: What are your favorite ways to remember Florence and your time there?
RE: Stare at pictures!!! From my pictures, I can close my eyes and bring myself back. Maybe I have a super power, but from my pictures I can process my memory very clearly.
EK: Any pieces of advice for future Florence study abroad students?
RE: Don’t travel every weekend! I know it’s super tempting, but Florence is an amazing city, houses amazing people and celebrates a unique culture and history.
Thanks Emily and Rachel!