By Zack Beltran
Last semester, I had the privilege of studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Being Italian, I was so excited to “go home.” I could not wait to eat pizza, pasta and gelato every day, visit all of the major sites and “be Italian!” And that’s exactly what I did.
I studied abroad at Syracuse University in Florence, with eight other University students. During my experience, these students (and many other young adults on the program) became some of my best friends. We laughed together, ate together and traveled to eight countries and twenty-five cities together.
While in Europe, I visited Italy (obviously), France, England, Ireland, Malta, Germany, Austria and the Vatican. I ate crepes in Paris, pasta in Italy, schnitzel in Austria and pretzels in Germany. We visited the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, just to name a few. I went shopping in Paris and toured the very green hills of Ireland. I had the perfect European semester abroad!
While I can look back now and say that studying abroad was one of the best experiences both during college and in my life (I want to go back!), it definitely had its challenges. Going to Italy, I had never even taken an Italian class and was nervous to interact with the locals. I eventually began to learn more and more of the language and felt comfortable in Italy.
Like anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone, studying abroad has challenges that reap great rewards. After my return to America, I feel so much more cultured and have a new appreciation for the luxuries we have in America and at the University.
I’m studying economics and sociology here, and I believe that studying in Europe has further enhanced my education. I can use my knowledge and experiences from abroad in the classroom and extra-curricular activities as well as my job search. For anyone considering going abroad, I think that it is definitely one of the best decisions you can make. No matter where you choose to go, whether it’s Italy or down under in Australia, you will learn so much about a new place, a new culture and yourself. You may never want to leave, but coming back to the University is always great! Going abroad literally gives you the best of both worlds.