The Beginning of a Life-Changing Experience

This semester, two CCI students will be sharing their experiences studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Follow them on their journey as they deal with culture shock, language barriers, and a total lifestyle change.

By Samantha Meisenburg ’18


It has officially been one week since I’ve arrived in Italy and I still don’t believe I’m here. I’ve had a passion for traveling since high school. Now, it is finally my time to leave the states.

I got my passport when I was 19-years-old, expecting to go to Canada, but that hasn’t happened yet. Once I held that government official document in my hand for the first time, I was obsessed. The travel bug bite me hard and left a constant itch of the great unknown. A world filled with postcard worthy scenery, monuments, culture and food was waiting for me.

Coming to Kent State has allowed me to begin filling my passport with stamps, my phone with photos that one can only dream of taking and my soul with a perspective on how to live from the influences of another culture.

Before school started, my friends and I walked past the Duomo, a church sitting in the middle of Florence, on the daily. Every time we saw it, we would take a couple seconds, be in the moment and appreciate this breathtaking, exquisitely detailed-oriented building. We have been exploring all over Florence, still in awe of the architecture before us.

Going without wifi (unless in my apartment or school) is a great technology cleanse. You’re with your friends and surrounded by such beauty, it’s refreshing not seeing everyone glued to their phone. It allows people to live in the moment.

I am still adjusting to this new way of life. A concrete jungle of cobblestone makes up the city of Florence and I have yet to see a patch of grass. I traded in Uber rides for a comfortable yet fashionable pair of sneakers because everyone walks here. Pathways that you think are only used as sidewalks are actually used for both walking and driving. So far, Florence has been just as cold as Kent and Florence was actually colder the first couple days I was here.

My daily commute to Kent State University, Florence edition, is luckily only a three-minute walk. A little piece of the states is still present because Subway and McDonalds are across the street from the school, but I have yet to indulge in a burger or footlong. Classes are interesting and intimate, with only 10 to 20 people per class. Communicating with professors is a unique experience because as they are speaking English to you, you are trying to speak Italian to them.

I’m excited and anxious for this semester. Although I’m 5,000 miles away, I’ve already found my home away from home in my roommates and classmates. We are all sharing this experience together, immersing ourselves in the language and culture, and understanding a way of life that is different from our ours. This semester in Florence is a great beginning to 2017.


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