Audrey Barrett - 2014 Program Participant

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Buongiorno Roma!

Why did you study abroad?

i wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, and expand my horizons while learning about and experiencing the culture of my ancestors.

What drew you to study abroad with CISabroad in Florence?

It was the most affordable, and it was one of the only ones from my school that went to Florence, which was my desired destination.

What did you like most about studying in Florence specifically? 

Other than everything? No, but really. Everything was amazing; the decadent food, genuinely friendly people, temperate weather, rich culture, and history that is almost tangible. What's not to love?

Was it hard for you to communicate in Florence?

It wasn't as hard as expected, most people knew English and even if they didn't, the language was easy to pick up.

What were the best parts of your program?

They focused a lot on learning the language and interacting with the locals, which I really liked. They also had a few trips to places around italy included in the program, which was super cool.

What surprised you most about studying abroad?

I was most taken aback by how many people spoke English and went out of their way to interact with us. It was very nice and lessened the stress of being in a foreign place.

How did the local staff support you throughout your program?

He was awesome! He actually lived on my street so we were neighbors. He really tried to get to know each and every one of us, and helped us get acquainted with our new city very well. Alessandro is a gem!

What is one thing you wish you hadn’t missed out on in Florence?

I wish I had rode a vespa.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

Get up, head down the narrow cobblestoned streets to your favorite cafe for an espresso and cornetto. Following that you head past the glorious duomo to your classroom, which just happens to be in a gorgeously ancient renaissance building. After learning about Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, you leave class and head to the Mercato Centrale to visit your favorite vendors for fresh produce. You then return home to prepare a delectable meal with your roommates. Following your fantastic dinner, you and your friends head across the river to Santo Spirito and drop in at one of the many bars for a drink or two. Following your evening of laughter and good company, you head back to your apartment, where you end the day with a glass of chianti classico on the deck before you turn in.

What did you enjoy doing on your freetime?

Getting lost. Wandering and exploring the less touristy parts of the city often lead to finding the most authentic Italian businesses to frequent.

What kind of housing did you have in Florence? What did you like best about it? 

I had an apartment in Florence. I really liked this because it allowed me to have my own schedule and to come and go as I pleased. It also allowed me to cook for myself which I loved.

How has studying abroad in Florence impacted your life at home? 

Remember middle school? Your desires were fairly superficial and simple, like wanting to fit in, be accepted and so on. Now think of college, your desires changed drastically to something much deeper like wanting to be true to yourself and find your voice. That shift is what I compare life before and after studying abroad to.

Once you experience how different cultures can really be, it opens your eyes and you'll never be the same. 

The things I've seen and the places I've been have made me realize how massive this world really is, and made me feel so small in the best way. That experience has made me who I am today. It's the best decision I've ever made; it has changed me for good.

How do you think you will use your experiences in Florence in your future career?

I want to become a traveling therapist and work all over the world. My experiences in Italy taught me how to interact with people from varying cultures and backgrounds to relate to them on a personal level.