Allyson Barnes is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Anthropology, Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, and Studio Arts major at University of Colorado - Boulder, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In her last post, Allyson reflects on her study abroad experience in Florence through all the changes and growth, as well as how the city has left its mark on her overall outlook and desire to work with people.
Stepping off that plane after an agonizingly long flight home was bittersweet. My adventure was over. But I was welcomed with open arms, literally, from my entire family. I was able to sleep in my own bed, be with my dogs, and have American food again. Yet I found myself constantly thinking about what I missed in Italy. It had become a part of me, and me a part of it. I was able to find myself in that city, and I found a place. I knew the streets like the back of my hand by the end of my adventure. I knew public transportation like never before. I understood what adaptation by necessity truly meant, and how utterly difficult, yet so worth it, it was. I was still the same Ally in many ways, and yet in others I was new.
A group photo with friends from Florence!
Being home I have certainly noticed some changes in me, luckily all for the best. I am so much more open about everything and so hungry to learn about anything I can. I want something to constantly surprise me so that I am challenged to learn more and think deeper about everything from varying points of view. I wouldn’t have done any of that or felt this way if I hadn’t decided to study abroad. It changed me, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Seeing Ponte Vecchio in the distance.
When you are abroad and experiencing life in a new country with new surroundings, you are constantly being challenged by your surroundings since they are so different from what you are used to. This forces you to adjust yourself, especially if you are abroad for a longer period of time as when studying abroad for a term.
The biggest challenge I faced while abroad was being away from my home and my friends and family. Homesickness hit me really hard when I got sick. I got food poisoning really bad, and I was on the phone with my mom just wishing I was home. Certain things make you miss home more than others, obviously. It was just hard being without the support that I am so used to having.
Witnessing a part of history.
Although I did face challenges while abroad, I have gained so much from the experience. As I mentioned, I’ve changed my outlook which is something I am so thankful for, especially since my future work will be so involved with people. Being compassionate and understanding of others, all people, is truly an amazing skill.
Photo time at Piazzale Michelangelo.
For students questioning whether or not they should study abroad, even after reading all of these posts: do it. You will never regret learning in such an immersive way. You will never regret walking where history took place. You will never regret learning even the tiniest bit of a new language. You will never regret the experiences and friends you will make on your journey abroad. There may be struggles, and you may be scared of some things, but I was too. And studying in Florence was the best decision I could have made for myself and the experience will be a part of me forever.
Allyson's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.