My Semester Abroad - Lauren Tooley '20

Friday, April 6, 2018

      If I’m being honest, I never thought that studying abroad for a semester would be a possibility for me. I wanted to double major and thought I couldn’t miss any semesters at my home university in order to finish in four years. However, the Levine Scholarship requires all scholars to study abroad once and encourages all students to study abroad as much as possible! For some, this looks like summer programs and for others, semesters abroad are the better choice. I ended up doing both and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have so much travel experience.

      For my semester abroad, I chose to go Florence, Italy. This was for two main reasons. The first, and largest, was because they offered classes in both of my majors that could count towards my degrees. This meant that I didn’t have to put myself a semester behind. The second reason was because I wanted to be in a place where I was more out of my comfort zone so I chose Italy because they speak another language and have a different culture than America. I can confidently say that I have totally made the right choice for me!

      I have many favorite things about studying abroad, but I think my favorite is how easy traveling is! Because of how my Florentine university is structured, I only have class three days a week which means I am able to travel for the rest of the week. That combined with affordable flights, trains, and buses has really enriched my abroad experience. I have gone to places that I never knew I wanted to go, like Belgium or Hungary. Italy is also amazing because it is so easy and affordable to travel the entire country by train, so I have gotten to experience many quaint Italian towns as well.

      I always knew I loved to travel, but now I’m really starting to understand why. I love being presented with a challenge and having to solve it, and that happens on every trip I have been on. Something doesn’t go as expected or an unplanned event occurs, so I am forced to take a moment to push my personal limits and solve the problem so I can continue with my journey. The lessons I have learned from these moments have been invaluable.

      Beyond learning new lessons, I have also experienced so many new cultures. I knew that Europe would present differences, but I never realized how nuanced and interesting those differences would be. For example, Italians love to leisurely walk but the people of London are practically running through the tube. Noticing and learning these differences have exposed me to a variety of ways to live and enjoy my life.

      My time abroad is unfortunately coming to an end soon, but now I’ve caught the travel bug and I plan to bring it back to Charlotte. Hopefully, I’ll continue to live spontaneously and crave adventure throughout the rest of my college career, even if it only means taking a day trip or trying a new restaurant in the Queen City!