#GenerationStudyAbroad: My Study Abroad Story

Courtney Cranford is a student at Emporia State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy.

San Miniato al Monte, Florence, Italy, Cranford, Photo 1
Hiked here on the second or third day after arriving. A pretty solid representation of how pumped I was to be in Italy.

I have always been more than slightly confused about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and who I wanted to be. I think this is because I want to somehow do everything.

I want to be an astronaut and a geneticist. I want to be a journalist that is constantly traveling and an archaeologist that dedicates my whole life to research one place. So when it came to studying abroad, I simply wanted to go anywhere, everywhere.

But after I chose to study abroad in Italy, and after I made it my home, and after I traveled throughout the country and to neighboring countries, I discovered something very important about myself. To me, its not what I see, do, or experience that makes this adventure so meaningful, but who I do it with.

This may seem obvious to some, or tacky to others, but truly looking back on the time I have lived in Florence, I have been able to pinpoint every great moment here to the people I shared them with. Why visit a small Tuscan country home, if you have no one to cook with, sit in a Jacuzzi with, or share the view with?  And who wants to climb the 877 steps of the Duomo and Bell Tower if you don’t have another person half encouraging you, half pushing you up the steps?

Duomo, Florence, Italy, Cranford, Photo 2
Speaking of climbing all those steps, lets get real, the view is totally worth it.

I have learned that every embarrassing moment, every frustration, every inconvenience, is a funny story and a great adventure when in the company of another lovely friend.

Bus Stop, Pratolino, Italy, Cranford, Photo 3
We ended up spending all day getting lost, hiking to the wrong town, and waiting at a bus stop when we discovered the park we were trying to visit was closed. Turned out to be one of my favorite Saturdays and made for a pretty fantastic group picture.

So now, I know I will travel more of the world, and continue exploring, but I will also better appreciate the adventures found in everyday life. When my roommate and I are sitting at home with the windows open, appreciating the sounds of people walking by. When I am with my parents, noticing the way they treat each other with such loving kindness. This all reminds me of how valuable people are in my life.

My Home, Florence, Italy, Cranford, Photo 4
My roommate is hands down the coolest cat. Not only is she super photogenic, but she has truly made this apartment a home.


Venice, Italy, Cranford, Photo 5
Seriously my parents are the cutest.

While I am still unsure which career path is best, and my future is not completely clear, I know that studying abroad has better prepared me for what is to come. I know that fantastic people can be found all over the world, if you only take the time to listen and be curious about the way others live. I have learned that I can handle hardship on my own, but that I don’t have to, if I am am only willing to ask for help. And people are often willing to help. And although I might not be able to see and do everything, I know that every little thing I do with someone I love is an adventure.

And as a popular Disney character might say, adventure is out there.

Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria, Cranford Photo 6
Whoever said a selfie stick was not a good investment, clearly never studied abroad.


John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic, Cranford, Photo 6
John Lennon Wall.

The world awaits…discover it.

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