Changes

How have your study abroad and college experiences changed the way you look at the United States? It has often been said that other people love Americans, even thought they might hate our government or policies. Are there ways we can address this conflict in perceptions?

When I was in Italy, I was surprised at the view Italians held of Americans. Before going abroad you hear about stories of how Europeans hate Americans. They hate their policies and politics. I found that more traditional Italian people were quickly judgmental on who I was before getting to know me, but the younger Italians or other citizens who were not Italian where more willing to get to know me.
When people found out that I was American they either became distant or got excited and wanted to know about my life. The most common questions I received were: where are you from, how old are you, and are you married. Italian men were the most curious and asked the most questions. They commonly stated that they already knew so much about American and would quote an American movie or songs.
The first few days I was there I realized that I was always in a hurry, rushing from here to there not really paying attention to anything around me. When I got home from class, I would stay in my apartment and do homework or watch movies on my computer until my roommates got home before we went anywhere. I realized that this is a flaw of being American. After living in Florence for about a week, I decided this place was too beautiful and unknown to be sitting inside. I would take the long way home from class, do homework outside in the piazza or just go for a walk.
Americans have busy lives; they are too busy to enjoy their surroundings, too busy to wait in line, and too busy working. There is so much beauty in the world and we need to take our time and appreciate it. We would rather stay inside on the couch and watch TV than go for a walk or sit outside.
Other countries hate our politics more than the people and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that America is a super power, the largest power in the world. Other countries can be intimidated by us and that causes the US to have a large “ego.” The way we do business is not always seen as the best from other countries. Our main purpose is to how to be more profitable and other countries have different views of what is most important.
I think the only way to change this perception is to increase the global competency of our CEO’s and business heads. By knowing about other countries culture and policies, it shows that we are more understanding and willing to work with them. By doing this we can help start the changes that are needed.

Il mondo

How do you define “global competency”? What level of global competency do you think you have from your study and travel? What might you have to do to improve your competency in this area?

To me global competency means having an understanding of the world around you; knowing about others cultures, languages, and lifestyles. To have the understanding that not everyone is the same as you or has the same thoughts and opinions. Having a sense of awareness and knowing that there are major and minor differences between each country.

When I studied abroad I had the opportunity to travel to six countries: Denmark, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, France, and of course Italy. Within those countries I visited twenty-seven cities. I think because I was able to visit so many places that were all so different, it has increased my level of awareness of other countries. As well as, my understanding of other cities culture and daily lives. My global competency has increased and my need for adventure and desire to travel it will only continue to increase.

Traveling and exploring other countries or cities is the best way to increase your global competency. You learn about their culture, language, families, and daily lives. By studying in other countries you learn about their education systems, what they view as important to learn and experience different teaching styles. Learning in a different country is so different. I think the best way to increase your global competency is to get an education in another country.

To continue to grow as a person and become more cultured and globally competent I plan to continue to travel. For law school, if possible I want to study abroad. As well as after I graduate I want to take a few weeks off and travel to all the places in Europe that I have not seen but want to. At times it might feel like it is such a small world but there are so many places that are just waiting to be explored.

Doing things differently?

What could you have done differently to better prepare for your study abroad experience? What advice would you give to outbound students? How has your experience affected how you will use the rest of your time here at EIU?

To better prepare for my trip, I don’t think I would have done anything different except maybe pack less clothes or be less prepared. I was so focused on being prepared for my trip at times I feel like I forgot to enjoy getting ready for this experience of a life time. Before I left I tried to see my friends and family because I knew I wouldn’t be seeing them for a while, I got in contact with my soon-to-be roommates over facebook, packed extra suitcases, changed my phone, stopped my bills and even tried to preplan what trips I wanted to take and when I could take them.
I have an issue where I have to know everything or I will feel like I know nothing. I would rather be over ready then not ready and sometimes that is not always a good thing. For students that are going on study abroad trips I would suggest to do all the things I did but when your doing them, enjoy every minute of it because for some people it really is a once in a lifetime experience.
Also I would say bring more money than you think you need. But don’t get all of it here. Depending on your country, the exchange rate at the ATM is much lower than if you changed your money at a bank in the USA, even when you include the fees. Don’t bring a lot of clothes or shoes, as much as you think you’ll need them, you wont. And if you really need new things you can always buy some there. Be prepared for school, bring school supplies. Surprisingly, in Italy, they were very hard to find and when I did they were very expensive.
I think the most important advice I can give to someone is to stop and enjoy everything. What do you see? What do you smell? No matter where you go, it is such a different place and you will never forget it, so enjoy everything. Because the little things you don’t even notice right away, are going to be the things that you miss the most. How you can get a cup of gelato for one euro or a quick cornetto on your way to class. How everyone says Ciao! as you walk by whether they know you or not. You stand in the middle of a piazza and look around and see buildings that have been there for hundreds of years and look brand new. You feel like your transported in time and if your too busy planning where you will go next, you will miss the beauty of the things right in front of you.
Because of this trip I am more thankful and appreciative. I cannot control every situation and I need to embrace that. I am more open minded and every now and then I stop and look around me and just enjoy where I am and my surroundings.

Giornale Numero Uno

What is the most valuable cultural lesson you learned and how do you plan to put it into practice in your everyday life? List five adjectives to describe yourself now, after having learned this lesson/gained this experience.

Every one is different or unique and each place you go has its own culture and personality. While living in Italy, I noticed very big differences between our culture and theirs. I traveled to many cities throughout Italy and each city within the same country, was very different. The most valuable lesson I learned was that I needed to slow down and notice the things around me that I was to preoccupied to notice before. In Italy people walk slower, they embrace the world around them. Because of this, I am more patient.
Walking in the streets and seeing how everyone treated one another, I have become more aware and understanding of others situations. I now appreciate my surroundings and the people in my life. I now see the little things I was to busy for before. The way Italians appreciate their families and the people in their lives, has made me more thankful for the support I have received from my family and friends throughout my life. Everything I have learned and have seen, has made me more cultured and enhanced my knowledge of things outside of my comfort zone. I use the lessons I have learned every day of my life to better myself and become the person that I knew I could be.
Five words to describe the new me are: patient, thankful, cultured, adventurous, and passionate. Studying abroad made me more confident and independent but primarily each of these words describe a part of me that I always knew was there, but didn’t embrace. Patient, as in waiting for others. Whether it is waiting in a long line at the store, being stuck in traffic, or waiting for a reply for an email. I have patience and now know how to wait my turn. I am thankful for the people in my life and the opportunities I have been given to become a better person. That includes improving my education, getting a job, being a part of my nephew’s life and being supported by my parents and friends. Before studying abroad I had only been on a plane three times, I had never left the states or traveled for fun.
Being in Italy allowed me to see things I could have only ever imagined. I traveled to twenty-seven cities and six countries and because of it I believe that my life is better. Experiencing different cultures and different outlooks on life I see things differently. Since studying abroad I am more adventurous, constantly wanting to explore new places and see new things. Lastly I am passionate about everything I do. After seeing the things I have seen, life is too short to not fully embrace everything you do. Love every minute of life and if you don’t, change it. That is one of the biggest things I learned about life, if you are not enjoying every second of every day, do something about it.

Study Abroad Sr. Seminar

To who ever follows my blog, unsubscribe now or forever receive updates.

I am taking a class this semester for my senior seminar. It is a Study Abroad Capstone class. Basically what happens is every week we have a topic and we have to do a journal entry that correlates to our trip. I thought since this is my SA blog that I would also post those entries here. They are interesting topics and it allows me to not only relive my experience in class but also for anyone that is interested. So… don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ps. it allows me to use some of that Italian I am unfortunately already starting to forget.

sono triste che sto dimenticando ma va bene mi ricorderò.

Ciao! :]

Its been a while…

Have you ever missed something so much it hurts? Some days I wonder why I ever came back. Florence changed my life and I would not be the person I am today without that city. I wish I could go back even for just one day.. to be honest I would go back for just one hour if I could. Just to feel the culture and be around the people, to smell the food from the bar opening up downstairs in the morning, to taste the fresh food, to eat tortellini alle bolognese. I miss Italy and Firenze so much.

I feel bad talking about it sometimes, because I think my friends and family get upset. So I haven’t talked about it in a while, but some days I wake up and still think I’m there and then I remember I am not. Some days that makes me really sad. People don’t really understand unless they have lived through what I have lived through. They try to be understanding and polite but its just not the same. I figured I would write something on here because then at least I can get my feelings out because I doubt anyone reads this anymore since I’m not there anymore.

At work today, I called IES abroad. Its a study abroad place that we are raising money for. I had to build rapport and talk to people about there trip and ask them questions so they would want to donate and the whole time I was wishing someone would call me and ask me about my trip. I could talk about it for hours. Every time I walk down my hallway and see my postcards or my map, every time my old roomies post pictures about how much they want to go back, the more I miss it. I know when I graduate law school I will go back to Europe for 2 weeks but it will never compare to living there for 5 months. Nothing will ever compare to the experiences and lessons I have learned.

This semester has been kind of hard making friends because everyone I was close with before has graduated. I have done a pretty good job so far but still most nights I just work, hang out, do homework and then go to bed. Which is okay but I would rather be out there exploring the night. Sitting on the Ponte Vecchio listing to a local man play his guitar and wasting the night away. I even miss all the rain… and man did it seem like it never stopped raining. I hate that I have to drive everywhere and that no matter what I do nothing is new here.

America is so different that Europe and it has its perks but it also has its flaws. I am proud to be who I am and where I am from but man do I miss the simplicity of life. The value of friendship and family. I miss speaking Italian and learning about the culture and the language. I miss the way the workers downstairs became a part of my family and knew what I wanted before I even had to ask. I miss how easy it was to get lost in the history and the architecture and the pure beauty.

I would not have done a single thing differently if I had to do it all over again, maybe stay longer, but then… I really wouldn’t want to come back… life is so complicated and worrisome and I miss my stressfreeness (if that’s a word). Italy truly was the best thing I have ever done…

I feel much better… Thanks for listening whoever is out there…

Ciao e Buona Notte!
goodbye and goodnight. :]

IL mondo è mia

So i guess its that time for my super sad and depressing last post. I am going home tomorrow! Im getting on a train and going to Bologna then to Copenhagen then ill be in good old Chicago. The thought of being in my house, seeing my friends and family, being in the familar is absoutely frightening. I have become so used to being here and the living the life style going home is really going to be different. This city has not just been a town i go to college in, it has become my home. I have created a family here. My roommates, my sisters. Samantha, the woman from the bakery down stairs our mother. My apartment, my home. This place has become a part of me and i will never forget it or the experiences i have had. Waking up everyday and walking past the duomo. Eating the fresh food. Hearing italian and pretending i know exactly what they are saying. Trying to speak italian and pretending i know exactly what i am saying. I am truely going to miss this city. It has made me a stronger and more independent woman and i know where i want my life to lead me. I have made a promise to myself that the people i met here will not just be a memory but ever lasting friends, I promise to learn from my adventures and use the lessons to become a better person every day, i promise that one day I will return again and see the place that i called my home for four months with new eyes, I promise to live every day like it is my last and to appreicate all things in life, i promise to never give up on my dreams and to never stop dreaming. Thank you Florence for giving me the best four months of my life.

Il mondo è mia.
The world is mine.

Hiking in the alps

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So our trip started off in Verona. We stopped at a castle that used to guard Verona and saw the old roman bridge it was cool still had some original stone. Then we went to the church that showed a panormaic of Verona. Very cool, the piazzale michangelo of Verona. We saw the infamous house of Juilet and the old court house and government building, a few more buildings importaint to Verona and the arena. It was a beautiful day, we had some free time at the arena so we walked around there for a little bit. It was like a mini collesum. Cool to see because its still in tact and is used for shows and concerts. Then we got on the road and drove to Lake Garda, Sirmione. It was so beautiful. The land is a peninsula so it was surrounded by the water and beach. The water was so cold but it felt amazing! There was a cool old castle that was surrounded by a moat so that was awesome. I loved it there! Then we went to Trento. We got to our hotel and had dinner. It was traditional 3 courses and was very good! After dinner we walked to the historical center and saw the duomo, it was night so it was lit up. It was very pretty. Nothing like florence but pretty. After we got back we passed out to get up early for day 2.

We drove through these towns that were literally built into the side of the mountains it was incredible. Once we got to madonna di campiglio we met our guides and began our tour we saw two waterfalls and this open area with an amazing view of the mountains! The one waterfall was so big it was 3 falls pouring into one the second was so tall to get to the top we crossed bridges build all the way up. The trail it self was slightly dangerous.. no rails, narrow paths and a long way down! But it was amazing. Breathtaking and unbelieveable!! I conqured hiking the Alps :) im very sad this is my last trip and that my time in italy is coming to an end. Next weekend im spending time with family because i dont know when i will ever see them again :(

But in 2 weeks from today i will be sleeping in my own room, my own bed and curled up with my nephew (because hes not leaving my sight for at least 24 hours). I can’t believe how fast these next 14 days are going to go..

Ciao!

Chat

Munich, Germany 25/4/2013-28/4/2013

This weekend I got to go to Munich for springfest. It’s the second largest fest compared to Octoberfest. We got into the hostel around 2 because we had to make an extra stop becuase of the stupid law that the bus driver has to stop every 4 hours. We got to our room and passed out.

Friday we got up at 8 had breakfast and went down for the walking tour. The tour was 2 hours long and took us around to some great spots in munich. Not

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only was it a historic tour it was fun. It being springfest it was a beer drinking tour. We had 6 kegs that Were on wagons and we pulled with us. It was a great time. After the tour was over we went to the hofbrahous for lunch it was so cool. Lunch wAs great. We went back to the hotel and then left for spring fest at 5 it was much closer to our hostel than the tour was. Once we got there it was not what i expected it was litterally a festival. There were rides and games and prizes and food and of course beer tents. There were 2 tents one held 2500 the other 3000 people. You can only be served if you are sitting down so it took us forever to find a seat and get our beer but it was a blast. People on benches people on tables on the floor people everywhere. There was a band and they played both traditional german music and regular music a lot of it in german. It was cool as well because everyone was dressed up in traditional outfits! The only Weird thing was in Germany you need to be 16 to drink beer so a lott of the people there Were super young kids. It’s basically the summerfest but all the high schoolers can get drunk. It was still fun and the night couldnt have ended any better but with fireworks! My fav! It was beautiful weather and a great start to the weekend.

Saturday we got up early, had breakfast and went to dachau concentration camp. It was not what I thought it would be like but it was very intense. It was heavy. The things we Were reading and the stuff we saw it was crazy I can’t believe that the things I learned about in class I was seeing with my own eyes. I didn’t know dachau was the 1st camp and was used to model they other ones. On our way back we tried to take this path of rememberence that the prisioners took from the train to the camp but we got lost and took a bus back. We got some brats for lunch and bought sme souivners and went back to the fest. When we got there they already made a line and we had to wait but things got crazy and all of a sudden people were charging the doors and we just got out of the way.after about an hour we got in and it was a blast we sang and danced and had a good ole german time. It was fun!

Sunday morning we got up had breakfast and checked out of the hostel. After we checked out we walked around town and saw some sights and then went back and waited for the bus. The bus was late of course abut finally it arrived and we made our way back to florence. On the way it was slightly raining in austria and after it stopped we saw a beautiful rainbow and a lil later another one. I have never seen anything like it. You could see it touch the groud it was so beautiful!

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