Well, my program sadly has come to an end, and I am writing this blog post from my South Oakland apartment 🙁 There are a lot of things I wish I had known before I began my international experience, but at the same time I really enjoyed going into this with no expectations. There is honestly no way I could have prepared myself mentally or physically for my time abroad because it was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I had no idea how engaging this trip would be in every way!
My program had soooo many highlights I can’t describe all of them, but I will list a few 🙂
- All the fieldtrips planned into the program! (Parmigiano Reggiano farm, balsamic vinegar vineyard, pecorino cheese farm, olive oil vineyard, truffle hunting, fish hatchery, and wine tasting!) These were all amazing learning experiences, not just with regards to learning about authenticity and food production in Tuscany, but also about the role that gender plays in food pathways and culture.
- Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea!!! Literally I think this moment was when I peaked in life. Nothing can ever top floating in the bluest water with my food studies besties.
- Florence sunsets <3 There is a beautiful piazza in Florence called Michelangelo Piazza. It is on top of a huge hill and requires a hike to get to the top, but the view of Florence is to die for. We got a big group together and went at sunset, and it was the most amazing experience. And afterwards we all went for dinner at an amazing Tuscan restaurant. One of the best bonding moments of the trip for sure.
- Independent travels with new friends (Venice, Cinque Terre, Rome) Although chaotic at times, bopping around Italy and navigating transportation was an amazing bonus to the already amazing itinerary of our program.
- A beautiful new friend group that will continue once we are all back at Pitt in the fall. This is perhaps my favorite part – making loads of new friends and knowing that although the vibes will never be just the same as in Florence, we can all look forward to our Oakland reunion.
The most important advice and goal I would recommend setting for myself and anyone planning on studying abroad is to keep an open mind for every experience. Studying abroad is challenging and exhausting at times, but the payoff is so worth it. I am so grateful that I was able to experience all that I did and am already feeling nostalgic.