To be honest, I didn’t have much expectations for my study abroad program before I departed. I pretty much had no idea what I was about to get myself into! I have a few friends who have studied abroad who have shared their experiences with me, but even so, I knew my individual experience would be unique and different.
Before the program started, I had a feeling that us students would be crazy busy given that we are receiving six credits in just three weeks. I was unsure of how much free time we would have, how structured the program would be, and what our schedule would look like. I can now say that we are much more busier than I ever expected! Our program is unique because it incorporates a lot of field trips rather than just being in the classroom. But with fieldtrips comes bus rides, early wake-ups, and long days. We do have free time, but I find myself struggling to balance rest and relaxation with going out and doing fun things outside of class! So although I figured these three weeks would be jam-packed with school, I underestimated just how busy and tired I would be.
Pre-arrival in Italy, I didn’t think much of how this program would impact me professionally. Professional growth wasn’t my main priority when applying to this program. However, I have learned that just the experience of being abroad teaches you so many life lessons applicable to the professional world.
Personally, I did not expect to become as close of friends with the other students in my program as I have so far. Coming in to this, I only knew a few people and was nervous about fitting in with the group. But that was not an issue at all! We have a really nice group of students in the program, and being together constantly for three weeks has sped up the friendship process so much. And one of the things I’m most excited about on a personal level is the fact that all of my new study abroad friends will also be returning to Pitt and we don’t have to leave each other once the program ends!
Now that I have been settled in Florence, I can confidently say that there was no way of knowing what to expect until I was really here, immersed in the culture and participating in everything the program had planned for us. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the program holds, and am already feeling sad about having to come home to Pittsburgh.