Erin Largey - 2014 Program Participant

Fountain in San Gimignano

Exploring San Gimignano

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I wanted to experience something different. I always loved learning about history and culture and I love to travel so it was the perfect fit for me.

Why did you choose CAPA?

I chose to apply to CAPA because it seemed like a great program that had a lot to offer. CAPA has a lot of unique classes that students can take and also different MyEducation events that allow each student to really experience their host city.

What was your favorite part about Florence?

I loved Florence because it was a small enough city to walk around by foot but still big enough for adventures each day. After a week or two of getting lost I finally got my boundaries and was able to walk to different parts of the city. Florence is now my second home and I cannot wait to go back.

What do you think sets CAPA programs apart from other study abroad programs?

The MyEducation program is something very unique about CAPA. They have a number of different events per week that students can sign up for. You can pick and choose which ones you do and it really helps each student to experience the city.

Beach in Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

In what ways did local staff support you throughout your program?

The CAPA staff was always available to talk to you about anything. They are available to talk about classes, homesickness, and even about the ins and outs of the city. There is even an emergency telephone line that students can call at all hours of the night if they are lost, feel sick, or a problem with anything.

What kind of cultural challenges did you face in Italy?

The language barrier is an obvious cultural challenge. Not being able to have people understand you can be very frustrating. This frustration motivated me to learn the language. I would not say that my next culture challenge was an actual "challenge", but it is more of a cultural difference. The Italians dress like they are going to a dinner party all the time. Women will be wearing heels and men will be walking around in an expensive suit. I tried to make sure that my presence when I left my house was not too American. I did not want to stick out like a sore thumb.

Describe a normal day in the life of an international student in Florence.

I normally had class in the morning so I would go to class and then grab lunch with some of the other students in the program. After classes, I would normally go explore the city with friends. We would either walk to unfamiliar parts to the city, go to museums, go to the different markets, or just go sit in a Piazza. After we would grab a bite to eat in one of the hidden gems in the city or attempt to make something half as good in our apartments. The night always ended with a group of us going out and experiencing the nightlife of Florence.

Dragon boat ride down the Arno River

Dragon boat rides down the Arno River

What did you enjoy doing on your freetime?

Just walking around the city and exploring all the different things Florence has to offer.

What is your most memorable moment from your time in Florence?

The whole semester is a memorable moment! However, attending the Fiorentina futbol match against Sassuolo is definitely one of my favorite moments.  At this game I started to feel like a true Florentine. The atmosphere of the games are so intense that every game feels like the Super Bowl or World Series. Futbol in Italy is a part of their culture and during my time abroad I wanted to experience as much of the culture as I could.

What type of accommodation options did you have?

Students can live in an apartment with other students or a homestay with a local family. I had an apartment in the center of the city with three other girls in the program. The apartment was a perfect size and had everything we needed. Most of the apartments had anywhere from two to five people.

What should every student know about your program?

The CAPA program is not just a program. We all became a family and this is when Florence started to feel like my second home. The CAPA staff are so friendly and will help you with anything (even if it is advice on where to go to eat). The friends I made abroad are still some of my closest friends. The CAPA program offers a number of unique classes and different opportunities for students as well. Through my MyEducation program students can take part in different lectures, discussions, and activities. Also, students can even teach once or twice a week at a local school.

How has studying abroad with CAPA in Florence impacted your life?

CAPA really impacted my life for the better. I have become more independent and spontaneous person. I learned so much about myself and gained a number of important skills, like better communication skills. I learned so much abroad outside of the classroom that I would have never learned back home.

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Perfect view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Do you have any regrets?

I wish I met some local Florentines earlier in the semester.

How has studying abroad impacted your career goals?

Studying abroad opened my eyes to the world and also made me realize that you do not need a plan in life. Before studying abroad, I had a clear set life plan, but when I returned home that clear line became blurred.  Studying abroad impacted my career goals because now I would highly consider traveling for work to different places.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

Part of me would want to go back to Florence because I miss it so much. I miss the culture, the food, and the people, but the other part of me wants to experience a different culture. I think I would go to Ireland because my family ancestors are from Ireland. It would be fun to see where my family came from.

What do you think the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

The biggest benefit of studying abroad is seeing the world. Before studying abroad I lived in my own little bubble, now I have been to more places and experienced more cultures that I never thought I would get the chance to. You learn so much abroad outside of the classroom that you would not learn anywhere else. Studying abroad gives many people (including myself) new skills like communication. In addition, most people become more independent and spontaneous.