It all started in the summer of 2018. I could feel the scorching Tuscan sun as I exited the plane and made my way down the stairs as adventure awaited me below. Exhausted but excited for what was to come, I grabbed my luggage, took a cab and then I was off to the City Center. I can clearly remember the first time I saw the Duomo; I felt so small in comparison. I couldn’t believe my eyes at all the beauty in front of me. It was early June and the city was buzzing with tourists. I dragged my suitcases through the cobblestone streets to my apartment for the summer.
The apartment was juxtaposed with the Duomo, and every day I listened to local Italians play their instruments with melodies that tugged at your heartstrings, and every night, I heard them as I fell asleep. It was more than a magical experience, just as Dean Martin sang in the 1953 movie "The Caddy:" “When you walk down in a dream but you know you're not dreaming” (from the song "That's Amore").The feeling of wanting to pinch yourself because you couldn’t believe where you were standing was in full effect that summer.
CEA welcomed us with pizza and conversation as we learned about the local culture, food and entertainment of Florence,Italy. As my journey abroad continued, I met all sorts of interesting people, especially my fellow interns and classmates. The friendships I made that summer still resonate today, and the memories we made are and will always be unforgettable. While traveling during the weekends and balancing two classes and an internship, I choose to challenge myself. Busy and tan, I become a local faster than I could have ever imagined. I knew my way around the city and no longer needed Google Maps to save me. It was truly an exhilarating and fundamental moment in my life, that allowed me to recognize that I was more than capable of doing anything I desired.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine ourselves in a foreign land, not knowing the language (or anyone for that matter), but with time, if you allow yourself to be completely immersed in the experience, magical things can happen. About two years later, I have continued to travel the world and currently explored eight countries including the U.S. It’s been a whirlwind, and I have sacrificed time and energy to make my goals come true, but it has been worth it all to give myself opportunities to connect and learn from different cultures all over the world.
I started my journey with CEA and continue as a Senior Alumni Ambassador. I hope that my story inspires anyone who needs to have a push in the right direction to complete their goal of studying ad/or interning abroad.
Sarah Franco is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Florence, Italy, during Summer 2018. She is currently a student at the University of Texas at El Paso.
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