Nina and her friends at a sporting event in Florence, Italy
I know my friends from Italy are people I will keep in touch with throughout college

As I sit and write my farewell to the city I called home for the past four months, I am surrounded by all of the new friends I met while abroad. I’ve noticed that in the last week, we have spent much of our time reminiscing on all of the great experiences and memories we have created. As I mentioned in my last blog, Navigating the Waves of Homesickness, I spoke about how my friends and I all initially longed for home but now that our last days in Florence are approaching we can’t believe it’s already over. Studying abroad was easily the best decision I could have made and if you have the opportunity to go abroad, I suggest that you do. 

My favorite part of being abroad was simply just living in a city as beautiful as Florence. It’s not every day you can walk by the Duomo on your way to class, or drink your coffee on one of the oldest bridges in Italy. It was little moments like these that reminded me of how unique my study abroad experience was. 

A picture of the front of Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, part of the Duomo in Florence, is a view that never gets old

Not only is leaving Florence a bittersweet feeling, but leaving Europe is as well. Before I studied abroad I had never been to Europe and had not traveled much past New England. Being able to live in a European country was surreal to me, and an experience I feel has shaped me as a person. 

Living in a new country with a new language, new customs, and an entirely different culture forces you to grow as an individual. You adjust to different ways of life and expand your horizons — maybe even more than you anticipated. I now feel like the rest of the world is so accessible to me. Before I moved to Italy, I was always scared of traveling outside of the US, but this experience has allowed me to understand just how accessible it can be. 

I also have noticed how I have grown as a student as well. While in Italy I was able to study coursework generally not offered at UMass. I talk more about this in my blog Lessons from Abroad: My Classes in Italy, but after a semester of Italian classes I have shifted how I view academia. There is a large focus on arts and culture in Italy, especially in the schools and it has been such an interesting thing to be a part of. In my psychology class, the Psychology of Art and Human Creativity, most of our field trips were to museums and galleries — but we also visited sculptures scattered throughout the city to highlight how art surrounds you wherever you venture in Florence. 

Saying Goodbye 

As my time in Florence came to an end, I made it a point to visit all of my favorite spots and complete all the last-minute must-do activities. One highlight was exploring the famous gardens, now in full bloom. During my second-to-last week, my parents visited, and together we went to the Boboli Gardens, an experience I had been saving to share with them. We also stopped by my favorite rose garden that is nestled below the famous Piazzale Michelangelo, which boasts panoramic views of the city. It is sights like these that I will miss the most and make saying goodbye so difficult.

Studying abroad has offered me so many opportunities, all of which I will forever cherish. Being able to call Florence home for four months was such a great experience and I have loved sharing my journey by writing these study abroad blogs for the honors college and I hope you enjoyed them as well. If you have any questions about studying abroad as an Honors student please communications [at] honors [dot] umass [dot] edu (feel free to reach out)

Nina posing on a bridge in Florence, Italy