Learning Everywhere/Global Classroom by Courtney Smith

Prior to studying abroad, I had only left the country one time and it was for a weeklong school trip. Being able to study in Florence for three months has been truly life changing and has opened my eyes to all that the world has to offer. I have learned so much about traveling since being here and adjusting between different places. So far, we have done day trips within Italy almost every Tuesday (because I don’t have class those days! Yay!) and try to go places on the weekend. So far, we have done a weekend to Colico on Lake Como, Paris, and Athens! Those trips often take more planning and can be more draining but they’re worth it when you’re out trying new things with good friends. The biggest issue our group has had when traveling is poor weather, which can often put a damper on otherwise high spirits.

However, those moments can be teachable and force us to challenge ourselves. We learned how to navigate the Paris Metro because of poor weather for the weekend that we visited. It was especially important when we’re trying to make it in time for reservations or ticket times. But aside from transportation difficulties, leaving Italy for travel has been smooth sailing.

When I travel to new cities, I always enjoy checking out a historic church, museum, or art gallery to better understand the importance of the place that we’re visiting. Of course, we check out the major sites of each city, because did you even really go to Pisa if you didn’t see the leaning tower? While walking around these landmarks, my friends each take turns rambling off the fun-facts they have learned about the place we are. Often, if we run into a landmark that has symbols that we don’t understand, we will make up a story and then check to see if we were close to the true meaning. My friend Zach and I did this at the Arc de Triumph, trying to figure out the meaning behind each figure carved into the façade.

Overall, it’s been such a great experience for learning more about the world. Meeting new people and immersing myself in different cultures has really opened my mind to all of the options I have for my life.

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