CAPA Study Abroad Alumna Interview: Emily Kyle
If you've been reading CAPA World for a while, you might recognize Emily Kyle's name from her time as an official CAPA blogger when she studied abroad in Florence in 2014. Below, Emily tells us her exciting plans now that she's graduated from UCLA and how her international experience has played a role in her career trajectory. She also reflects on her happiest moments from Florence and her best advice to students studying abrad now or about to embark on their journey.
CW: Why did you choose to study abroad in Florence?
EK: My mother’s family immigrated to the United States from Italy a couple of generations back. Growing up, I was always proud of my Italian heritage, but I never quite understood what it really meant to be Italian or what Italy was actually like. I jumped on the opportunity to study abroad in order to experience the land of my ancestors and to enrich my cultural understanding of this fascinating part of the world. And I figured, where better to experience the spirit of Italy than the beautiful city of Florence?
CW: Where do you see yourself taking your career over the next few years? Did your experience abroad in any way shape your career goals and aspirations?
EK: Having just graduated from college, I will now be embarking on that scary and exciting time known as “post-grad life.” I will be leaving in July to travel around Southeast Asia for several weeks before moving to Japan and teaching English. (If you’re interested in following me through my adventures, please feel free to check out my blog! https://emilytravelstheworldblog.wordpress.com/) After this, I’m planning on attending law school and pursuing a degree in international law.
My experience studying abroad definitely influenced my interests and career trajectory. While I was with CAPA in Florence, I was given the opportunity to volunteer as an English assistant at a local school. This experience made one thing abundantly clear to me: this was something I wanted to do again. I knew I had to live abroad again—there was no way I was going to let this amazing adventure be the end of an exciting repertoire of international experience—and I knew that being in a classroom setting fostering fluency in my native tongue was the way I wanted to spend my time abroad. Furthermore, my intense interest in diverse cultures and international affairs was unquestionably fueled by my experience in Florence, and this passion has inspired me to pursue international law.
CW: You were an official blogger for CAPA during your semester in Florence. What did you learn from this experience in terms of understanding how you grew and changed while abroad? Would other students benefit from blogging while abroad?
EK: Blogging gave me a unique insight into my life as a Florentine and my growth as an individual that proved to be profound throughout my three and a half month journey. Keeping a weekly blog allows you to take a step back from the fast-paced life in which you are absorbed and reflect on specific aspects of your experience. And this reflection is invaluable in allowing a better understanding and appreciation of your growth. I would highly recommend keeping a blog throughout your time abroad; it lends you such an important perspective that can prove to be incredibly special for both yourself and your eager fans (all of the friends and family who are dying to hear what your experience is like!).
CW: When you think back on your time in Florence, what memories make you happiest? Would you do anything differently if you studied abroad again?
EK: When I think back to my time in Florence, it is with a happy heart. My experience in Florence was such a beautiful one. My happiest memories were undoubtedly the ones that were shared with my Florentine host family—playing with the kids, barbecuing at a nearby lake, biking to the market, celebrating Thanksgiving and birthdays. Especially the simple everyday things that made the entirety of my experience so full and meaningful.
I don’t think I would do a thing differently. Except maybe stay a little longer.
CW: If you could offer a piece of advice to the new group of students studying abroad in Florence, what would that be?
EK: I wrote a whole blog post on this during my time in Florence, but my advice would be this: soak up all that this city has to offer. Dive into the language. Don’t be afraid to speak to locals in your less than perfect Italian. Go to the markets. Dare to venture away from the safety of your fellow Americans. Go out on your own. Meet Italians and get to know them. Stick around on the weekends and get involved in the community. Experience life as a Florentine, not as an American studying abroad in Florence.