By Maxwell Warner
Ciao ragazzi (Hi guys)! My name is Maxwell Warner and I’m from Middlefield, Ohio. I will be sharing a couple of my experiences living in Europe for the first five months of this year.
In 2017 I received my diploma from Cardinal High School. Unsure of what to do with my life afterwards, I was accepted to Kent State University with an undecided major. I signed up for the general required core classes, and after some major self-discovery during a 2018 summer abroad program in China (The Sichuan University Immersion Program), I decided the best major for me would be Applied Communications. I have always taken an interest in communicating with others, networking, mass communication, visual communication design, etc., so this major just made sense. Many of us dream of traveling, seeing new places, and immersing oneself in an entirely new culture. I can assure you that after my trip to China, I was determined to travel, determined to see more. With this newfound determination, I turned my dream to explore the world into a reality.
Getting to Florence, Italy was not the easiest. This was where I would spend most of my time from January-May 2019. For those of you that do not know, Kent State University actually has their own campus in Florence. Golden Flashes have been immersing themselves in the Italian culture for 40 years. The study part of “study abroad” is quite similar to any other semester. I was still a full time student, enrolled in 15 credit hours, still taking classes Monday-Thursday, but managing to travel on the weekends. However, getting to Florence was an application process, an orientation process, and more. (I don’t want to spoil all the fun for potential study abroad applicants). It was almost like enrolling in college all over again. Did I let that stop me? Nope, sure didn’t! Once accepted to the program and all my fees were paid, before I knew it, it was January 7th and time to hop on a plane to my new (but temporary) home.
Getting to Florence, I was super nervous as anyone would be in a new environment. Little did I know, I was about to have the time of my life. Going into the program, I only really knew three or four people through my fraternity Phi Sigma Pi back in Kent, so I felt the need to make friends. Being an outgoing, enthusiastic, fun individual, this was the least of my concerns. I was more worried about adjustment to the new environment. To give you more insight of my first week in Italy, here are some excerpts from the journal kept while there:
“January 8th- Day 1: The taxi driver accidentally dropped me and a friend off at the wrong apartment so that was kind of wild! But we just went with the flow and figured everything out. One fun thing that happened while we were waiting for our next taxi was an Italian man come outside. He looks at me and exclaims “short pants!?” I said yes. He laughed and kept walking. I’m assuming shorts aren’t very popular in Italy. Ha ha! Had my first aperitivo today. I didn’t really know how it worked so I just walked in and acted like I was looking for something specific and the guy working the counter helped me out.”
“January 12th- Day 5: At this point in the trip, I am getting much more comfortable with my surroundings. I feel confident enough to walk to the Duomo (Cathedral) from my apartment to the local grocery store, and to the school as well, all without a GPS. The orientation sessions we have been having are really helping me out!”
These excerpts just show how fast one can adjust to a new setting. Although there were a few cons to studying abroad: culture shock, homesickness, debt, language barrier, reverse culture shock. I would not change my decision for any reason. From bungy jumping in Greece, to holding an owl in England, to riding camels in Morocco, to appreciating the artwork in Italy, I had the experience of a lifetime. During my time in Europe, I was able to visit 13 countries and see 33 cities, and even learn quite a bit of Italian, all at only 20 years old. In the past two years alone, I have seen two of the seven wonders of the world, and have stepped foot on three different continents! I can’t put into words how much these trips have impacted me, and I would highly recommend that incoming college students study abroad. Even if you aren’t a student, I encourage you to get out there and see the world. There are so many things that we as Americans can learn from different cultures and settings. Life’s too short to limit yourself. Go see what the world has to offer. Ciao (Goodbye) for now.