Thursday, December 10, 2015

Backpacking without a Backpack

I disappeared for a while due to travel and interviews but I'm back to share the last juicy details of my stay in Australia! Hopefully after this post and these wonderful photos I'll share with you, you'll forgive me....

Anyway, during one of my weekends in Australia, I decided to do some solo travel adventures. I'm planning to do an East Coast trip before I head home to the American lands. But first, I wanted to see how well I can travel by myself (yes I traveled from the US to Australia by myself but that's different--kind of).

Where did I go?

None other than the beautiful(but small) Adelaide. Adelaide is a city located in South Australia, about an hour flight from Melbourne.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Reflection of My Time Abroad

As the semester comes to an end I’ve been taking the time to reflect on all of the adventures I’ve been on throughout my time abroad and I have been trying to take advantage of the 2 weeks I have left on this trip. Prior to arriving in Florence my idea of Italy was different in a lot of ways. I thought that the language would come extremely easy to me and I would be fluent within a few months. Although my original idea of Italy ended up being very different, I am proud to say that I have grown more than I could have imagined. Here are two of the major expectations I had prior to arriving in Florence and what really happened while I was abroad.

1. I thought I would learn the language easily.

I’ve always heard that languages come easy to you when when you are submerged into a foreign country. After studying Italian I-IV at Drexel and studying Rosetta Stone on the side, I really thought I knew a lot more Italian than I actually knew. When I first got to Florence I was so excited to put my Italian skills to the test. Sadly, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I tried to order a cafĂ© in Italian but when I tried to speak in Italian the bartender can tell I was American and would just speak to me in English. I didn’t realize that most Italians (especially living in my area) know English and can speak it fluently. In addition, I live in a building with all American study abroad students so I don’t even get the chance to practice when I’m back home in the apartment. As the weeks went by I tried my best to practice Italian and to meet other Italian students in my school. Considering my classes were all in English, I only had American students in my classes so again, I’m surrounded by English speakers in a place where I expected to only hear Italian. This was extremely discouraging at first, but it helped me to want to learn Italian faster; I was so sick of feeling so lame not being able to converse with people and have a normal conversation in their language. Now, I realized the language was not as easy to pick up as I expected but, I have learned so much and now I am more confident when I speak to other Italians. In the end, I am not as fluent as I hoped to be, but I have improved my Italian immensely and I am a lot more confident than I was when I first came to Italy.

2. I thought I would make best friends here and would be able to go on adventures with my friends around Europe.

One of the most important things I’ve learned from studying abroad is that you don’t need to be best friends with the people you are studying abroad with. I had absolutely no problems with my roommates and friends studying abroad. Although they were always clean, respectful, kind, and considerate I realized that the only thing we really had in common was that we wanted to study abroad in the same program and we love fashion. Although, I made plenty of friends including Italian friends from school I felt very lonely at times. I was always so ready to go out and explore and meet new people, but no one really had that same adventurous characteristic that I had. I would consider exploring on my own at times which was nice during the day but, it’s not something I wanted to do alone for a full semester. Also, it would get dark around 5pm so, exploring on my own did not sound like a safe idea either. By the end of the trip I realized that I wasted a lot of my time being upset and feeling held back. However I believe I’ve grown the most because of this. I had a lot of time by myself to reflect on my life back home and realize what and who I truly missed while abroad. It also gave me a chance to see who really missed me and who would reach out to me. Although I didn’t explore as much as I was hoping I would, I am so happy that I had time to reflect and focus on myself for once because I am so busy when I am back home so, I feel as though I never get the chance to think about myself.

With just two weeks left I’ve decided to turn things around and really get more out of my experience here; after all, it’s not going to be a 100 euro round trip to Germany once I leave here! This week I traveled to Hamburg, Germany to see my grandma and cousins who live there! I am so excited I got the chance to see them and Germany is so much fun this time of the year with their Christmas markets and beautiful lights around the city. I think it's safe to say I have caught the travel bug and I am not ready to come back!


Christmas Markets in Hamburg