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My Study Abroad Experience: Florence, Italy

As I began my college search as a junior in high school, I knew that I wanted to go to a school that had a large study abroad program with many location options.  I told myself that I was going to spend a semester in Australia, because nothing sounded cooler than that.  But, after spending over a year at Bentley, I began to change my mind on studying abroad.  Did I really want to miss a whole semester at Bentley? 

As questions ran through my mind, I decided to look at other global opportunities.  I eventually settled on a month over the summer in Florence, Italy.  I had always wanted to go to Italy and it was the perfect program – a new experience I would be challenging alone but also not as large of a commitment as a whole semester.  I was accepted into the program and could not wait for June to arrive. 
 

My sophomore year at Bentley came to an end, and all I could think about was my month in Italy that was quickly approaching.  I packed up my suitcase, boarded the plane and knew that I was making a great decision – and one that would have a huge impact on my life.  I was amazed that the city was more beautiful than the pictures I had been looking at for months and that this was my new temporary home.  I quickly become close friends with the eleven other students in my program and I was ready to explore Florence, take new classes, and have a great cultural experience.   
 
The food, the culture, and the city were all things I quickly became accustomed to and that I still miss.  My time there flew by and before I knew it, I only had a few days left in  this amazing city before I had to head back to the United States and to reality.  Looking back on my experience, I would not have done it any differently, but after talking to friends who are currently abroad for the semester, I have realized some pros and cons to studying abroad.
 
Pros:

1.    Get ahead in credits
By studying abroad over the summer, I was able to take two classes and, therefore, be 6 credits ahead.  If you’re in a country with a different native language, it is a great way to learn and then practice with locals.  My favorite class was Photography – it counts as an Arts and Science elective and I was able to explore the city and capture some awesome pictures.

2.    What did you do this summer?

Most students go home and have an internship or a job for the majority of the summer.  By studying abroad either over the summer or with one of Bentley’s faculty-led programs (which are usually over spring or winter break), you have an awesome experience to discuss with people.  I also had over two months of summer left when I returned, which I spent working.  You get to meet new people, learn both inside and outside of the classroom, and live in a new country.  It’s a great self-growing experience as well as an experience you may never be able to have again. 
 

Cons:

1.    So little time, so much to do– Class time took up a majority of my day, since the 3 credit courses had to be completed in a month.  This left less time in the day to spend traveling, visiting famous monuments and museums, and exploring.  Although I was able to leave Florence to visit the coast of Italy, I did not have time to travel throughout the rest of Europe – which many semester abroad students do.  Many days I was exhausted because I didn’t want to waste any time – but this is something that a cappuccino could always fix!   

2.    Financial impact– As with anywhere you go, you’re bound to spend money.  With the plethora of shopping, restaurants, and gelato shops in Florence, it was hard to budget spending.  For any study abroad program, it is smart to plan out how much money you want to spend that way you can make sure you stay on track. 
 
Studying abroad is probably one of the best experiences that I have had and I suggest that you at least look into the options available to you.  Information for Semester, Summer, and Faculty-led Study Abroad Programs at Bentley are on  the Cronin Office of International Education’s website or in Adamian 161.  It’s a decision that you won’t regret! 

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