Ethan Beseris, Alumni Ambassador
1. These places/restaurants/sites were a-may-zing! Future study abroad students should not miss them:
It's no secret that Italians love to eat, but you can't experience Italian food culture without participating in an "aperitivo." These are a ritualistic prelude to a large meal but can sometimes last 1-2 hours. It was the perfect place to socialize with friends and meet locals. Another can't-miss food experience in Florence is Panini Toscani, located right in the historic Piazza dell Duomo. This sandwich shop has no menu; instead, their friendly staff offers a sample of all their meats and cheeses and lets the customer build their own panini from their favorite combinations. It's not only a great opportunity to taste the best Italian deli food but also to learn about where the food comes from and how each region handles its preparation.
2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?
As a result of my experiences abroad, I have been inspired to lead a more simplistic lifestyle. When I left for Europe, I carried nothing but my backpack and a pocketful of euros. I traveled on trains, stayed in hostels, and ate my meals on the city streets of Italy. I had virtually nothing, yet my time there was one of the happiest periods of my life because I learned to take pleasure from experiences, not possessions. This transformation of thought was, in part, influenced by the Italian culture. I learned from the Italian lifestyle and took more joy in the simple, every day happenings of my study abroad experience. Still today my favorite memories from my trip are the afternoons I would relax by the Arno River or lounge in the shade of a nearby church. Since returning home, I have begun searching for times where I can be with my friends and enjoy life with them because that is what brings me fulfillment. Italy taught me to derive my happiness from my present state of being, and it's a lesson that I will never forget.