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My First Time Studying Abroad In Italy

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

For many people, the opportunity to study abroad might be a lingering question: should I or shouldn’t I? I was definitely in this boat. For one, I had never left the country; I was raised in a super small town in Texas and small towns in Texas were comfortable and familiar to me (Moving to Fort Worth for college was a culture shock!) I was definitely hesitant; the idea of going to a whole new country for the majority of my summer was scary. Plus, I loved my summers with my family as they were scarce and precious. However, the idea of getting to explore a new country was too exciting. I had always dreamed of going to Italy ever since I was a little girl and the opportunity simply seemed too good to miss. Plus, I was able to earn credit for my major and get the experience to learn about educational practices and non-profits in Italy. I can still remember hitting the “apply” button and thinking “well, there’s that”. What was the worst that could happen? The person that I look up to the most in the world is my grandmother. She was like me; comfortable in small Texan towns and had never left the country either. When I called her and told her about my acceptance to study abroad, she was thrilled. “Mija, that is so exciting!”, she exclaimed and begged me to stay as safe as possible in this new country. Once I heard her response, I knew I had to go Within months, I was getting ready to move out of my dorm and packing my bags for Italy. I was thrilled. At the same time, I didn’t know what to expect. I had only seen Italy in movies and I was told “expect lots of pasta and a lot of tourists.” I’ll never forget the flight to Florence. Even though I was on the plane, I still couldn’t believe that I was going to Italy. The flight seemed like it would take forever and I was incredibly eager to get off the plane. Once I landed, I couldn’t believe it. I was in Italy!!! Italy!! Florence was beautiful, busy, and full of art. I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous art and history in Florence. I can still remember the twinkling lights, the lively music, and the laughter that filled the streets of Florence. The people were beautiful, stylish, and very friendly- I had met many kind people who could definitely tell I was an American student studying abroad. The food in Italy was absolutely incredible; I definitely fell in love with the pasta and the pizza. I definitely don’t think I’ve eaten as much pizza and pasta or drank as much red wine as I did in Italy; but it was definitely incredible. Exploring Italy was incredible as well; I fell in love with Venice and Rome and the beauty and culture that came with it. The streets of Rome were busy and beautiful; the Trevi Fountain was absolutely gorgeous and I couldn’t believe I was able to see it in person. The place that absolutely stole my heart was Venice. With its beauty and delicious food, I fell in love and I will never forget the opportunity to ride a boat throughout the watery “streets” of Venice. The days were definitely long and hot; I was exhausted by the time I boarded the plane to go home. But it was so incredibly worth it. I got the opportunity to leave the country for the first time and break out of my comfort zone even more than I have at my time at TCU. I was able to explore one of the most beautiful countries in the world and try some of the most incredible food I have ever had in my life. I was able to be immersed in a new culture and meet so many incredible and interesting people. I also received the opportunity to learn about the incredible and unique educational practices in Italy. So, if you ever receive the opportunity to study abroad, even if you are unsure, take it! You absolutely won’t regret it

Marena Mendez is a rising senior at Texas Christian University and the President of Her Campus at TCU. She is a Youth Advocacy and Child Development major with specializations in Art Education and Communication studies. Marena is also the President of Frogs 4 Children, the Director of Hospitality for TCU Dance Marathon, and a Marketing Intern for Make A Wish. If she's not on campus, she's probably watching "Community", at Target, or tearing it up at Billy Bob's!