In the Fall of 2018, I left the country to study abroad in Florence, Italy. If you have ever considered studying abroad, you probably have heard multiple people saying that it was a life changing experience or one of the greatest experiences ever, something cheesy like that. Let me say that when I went, I did not believe that. I was wrong. This was by far one of the best experiences in my life. Growing up in a small border town in southern Arizona, I never imagined being able to travel anywhere. I always incorporated travelling as being too expensive. Luckily, through financial aid I was able to go with having to pay anything!
I enrolled into a program called CEA, which stands for Culture Experiences Abroad. As stated in the title, this program focused on learning the culture of a given place. I was placed into an Italian class, a class about the culture of food and wine (yes, we did tastings!), a class about the renaissance artists, and a history class about the Italian mafia. I learned so much about the culture. I got to explore the beautiful city of Florence, try some of the most amazing food I have every had, and interact with the locals and improve on speaking Italian. I thought the locals would understand Spanish better than English, but I was wrong, and it surprised me since how similar Spanish and English was.
Florence was not the only place I got to visit. The first couple of places I got to go with the program was Cinque Terre and Almalfi Coast. These two places had some of the best seafood I have ever had. Next were Rome and Naples. Rome was amazing! The one thing I have always wanted to see was the Colosseum and I got to go inside! Naples was a brief trip and it was not as nice as Rome or Florence, but at least I get to say I went there. I took some trips outside the country as well. I got to go to Munich for the annual Oktoberfest. It was amazing seeing thousands and thousands of people all in one area doing what most people love to do; drink beer.
With this program, they have a Fall break, giving us a week to do anything we like. I took this opportunity to go on a cruise! This cruise took me to four different locations. They were Dubrovnik, which is where Game of Thrones is filmed, Athens, Santorini, both locations in Greece, and Naples, which I mentioned already. Santorini was beautiful! I was able to drive from one side of the island to the other in about half an hour and it was breath taking.
If given the opportunity to study abroad GO! Do not hesitate. I almost did not go because I was nervous about leaving the country, but I am so glad I did. If you are a chemistry or biochemistry major, the easiest way to study abroad is to complete your gen eds abroad. Do not go looking for a science course abroad. You want to be able to enjoy the trip! Apply for scholarships if the costs are too high. Do whatever it takes to be able to go anywhere in the world. It is worthwhile and a once in a lifetime opportunity.