My last day as part of my study abroad program here in Florence, Italy has arrived! It is with bittersweet feelings that I am typing this up on my couch in my now-empty apartment. I have learned so much about myself in the past 7 weeks and am returning to the United States touched and changed by my experiences here. As a student who comes from parents that immigrated to the United States for more opportunities for their children, I feel so privileged to be able to even type this up. I had very difficult moments during this trip where I felt like I was in the wrong place and everyone around me seemed to be adjusting to this change with more ease than I was but all in all it was a great experience. With the difficult days also came days that I will never forget. I have made friends with some exceptional women and found ways to be pushed out of my comfort zone without totally losing it.
With that being said if you’re a first-generation college student or just a student from a similar background as mine and have an interest in studying abroad. Please look into it! At this time last year, there wasn’t a chance I would have thought that I’d be finishing a program in Italy and now that it is coming to an end, I don’t think I’ll ever regret it. At times it may seem like you might have made a wrong decision but all’s well that ends well! I had an unforgettable experience as someone who would call themselves introverted. This doesn’t have to mean hopping on a plane every weekend or going out every single day! Everyone’s experience is unique to them and will be memorable regardless! I can confidently say that I am a more confident person and learned more about myself.
All in all, Italy is a beautiful country and has so many different places to visit and see. I hope to return in the future and reminisce about my time here as a 19-year-old college student! Attached are some pictures from my last dinner in Florence which was a delicious flatbread pizza and my walk back to my apartment on the Santa Trinita bridge, a truly bittersweet moment (in my opinion I prefer Florence at night!). I hope anyone who’s on their study abroad trip or who is interested or will be attending a program finds some peace knowing that yes it can be difficult but it is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Melany Chavez Ugalde