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Letters from Abroad Flying to Florence

Monica Skelly ‘18, Abroad Columnist

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Whenever I would picture my abroad experience, I always thought I would go someplace where I would be surrounded by my closest friends. However, when debating between programs I knew I had to choose Dickinson’s partner program with Syracuse University in Florence, Italy. It offered amazing and engaging classes for my major, art history, as well as a homestay component, which was something I knew I wanted out of study abroad. With this decision came the knowledge that I would likely be the only Dickinson student on my program. This turned out to be the case and I travelled to Italy knowing that when I got there I would not only be in a foreign country where they speak a different language but that I would also know literally no one. During orientation it felt like freshman year again, in both the best and worst ways. I liked being able to meet new people yet it was difficult to put myself out there. Things started to really improve as classes began though. Within my classes I connected with other art history majors who shared the same passion for the subject that I do. We always do a lot of site visits to different works of art and architecture within the city. This is an opportunity I could never have in my art history classes in Carlisle. Our classes also take day trips to cities like Venice and Pisa and one overnight trip to Rome. It’s so surreal to be able to casually walk by the Duomo on my commute to school or decide on a whim that I want see Michelangelo’s David that afternoon. I’ve also loved living in my homestay. It definitely gives me access to a side of Italian life and culture that I never would have if I opted to live in an apartment.

After three weeks of living in Florence, I can confidently say that I made the right choice to go abroad alone. At Dickinson, it became easy to rely on old habits and friends so that I never had to leave my comfort zone. Here in Florence I’ve tried to push myself outside of that zone, whether it be by trying octopus in my homestay (not terrible, but probably not going to do it again) or by planning trips out of the country with new friends. I’ve also tried to grow as a more independent person. I like to go out and explore the city during afternoons when I don’t have class. One of my favorite things about Florence is that there are so many hidden gems within the city. Some are in the form of the best gelato I’ve ever had tucked into a side street or a little shop selling traditional Florentine ceramics. I would recommend to anyone who is thinking about doing a partner program or a non-Dickinson program to go for it. I knew that I would regret missing out on all the amazing opportunities that I’ve gotten out of abroad so far, some largely because I came in to it alone if I had opted to do a different program. The only thing I wish I could change is the weather. Here’s hoping to see more sunshine in Florence for my next couple months!

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Letters from Abroad Flying to Florence