Abby Medved - 2015 Program Participant

A view of Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Ponte Vecchio

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

Do you ever just feel as though you are wondering through life without a purpose? That's exactly how I felt before I went abroad, and that was the last thing I ever wanted to feel. I'm a planner, I always know what my next move is, or at least what direction I'm headed. This was the first time in my life where I felt stuck in a completely average life. I was just going through the motions and I finally decided that it was time to be happy again. I have always been fascinated by the idea that a person can learn more through experiences than any other way. I made the decision to stop settling for average and get outside of my comfort zone. I could feel who I was slipping away from me, so I left to go find myself again.

Why did you choose API over other study abroad program providers? 

As I said, I am a planner. I went through each program piece by piece; I made more pro and con lists of programs. Two of my friends had chosen to study in Florence at the same time as me. We were comparing all of the programs and although they chose a different program, I knew that API was the program for me, even though it meant being away from them. API offered all of the classes I needed; they offered the best cultural activities and did it all at a great price.

What was your favorite part about Florence?

I was never looking for a second home, all I wanted was an adventure, but that's what Florence became to me. It took me awhile to realize that Florence was truly my home; it wasn't until I went to the coffee shop just down the street, which wasn’t big by any means, just barely enough room to stand. There were a couple of men up at the bar when I walked in and the espresso machine was working hard. The owner turned to me, smiled, and asked if I wanted my usual. We talked while he made my coffee just as we did any other day. I said goodbye and went on my way.

As I hurried down the street to class I started thinking about how normal that was for me. I had finally found my place in this big city. I loved how, although Italians are more relaxed in their manner, there was always something to do.

Whether it was passing the Duomo everyday on my way to class or watching the sunset at the Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence was constantly sharing its amazing history with us.

View of Florence from The Duomo

Florence with the Duomo in the foreground

What made API’s Florence program extra special? 

While in Florence I still saw my friends and as we got to talking I started to realize that I had made the right choice with API. One aspect that API offered was the excursions and cultural activities. They organized both weekend trips and evening events in Florence. I found that API was the best program at facilitating activities such as these.

How supportive were the local API staff members throughout your stay in Florence?

The API staff was very helpful during my stay in Italy. They were never to overbearing, but you always knew that you could reach out and get help at any time.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

There's always something you can do differently, another trip you could have taken or a different class you could have enrolled in. There isn't a specific thing that I would change, I only wish that I had not fought the direction I was going; like I said, I felt as though I was losing myself. When I went abroad I started to find myself again, the only problem is I didn't recognize myself, so I fought against myself. I got way more out of the experience once I started focusing on what I wanted to gain from studying abroad and who I wanted to surround myself with. At the end of the day though, I don't think there is a wrong way to study abroad.

What was your day-to-day life like in Florence?

Life became routine in the most loose form of the word. Monday through Wednesdays I had class, and when I wasn't in class I was doing homework or exploring the city. I would start my day with a trip to a coffee shop on my way to class. After class I would either make lunch in my apartment or I would go to a cafe. The day would usually end with some form of “family” dinner. Once Thursday came it was time to travel. I traveled almost every weekend and it became a very familiar thing to me. There was never enough days in the week.

What did you like to do in your free time? 

My favorite thing to do in the city was to head up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. Although it can be a little bit of a hike to get up there it is beyond worth it. Whether its during the day for a gelato festival or at sunset overlooking the city, you can never do wrong by the Piazzale Michelangelo.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in a spacious apartment one block form the Duomo. I had five random roommates who became my family. Lucky for us, we got along and became each others best friends while abroad. Fortunately for us, not only did we get one of the largest apartments in the center of the city, we also got a private rooftop deck from which we could see the Duomo.

How has studying abroad impacted your life at home?

This experience has affected the way I view everything, and how I picture my future. I've realized that I want to experience life fully, I don't ever want to settle for ordinary. I am more confident in who I am now more than ever and believe that I have the strength to accomplish my new dreams. Not everyone gets to experience that I got to and I'm not going to let that go to waste. Italy has given me a newfound appreciation for life. I am never going to stop traveling and I am never going to stop fighting for what makes my soul celebrate.