Life Skills I Learned While Studying Abroad in Florence, Italy

When students go away to college for the first time we learn how to be independent and live our lives on our own. Now imagine going to college in a completely different country that speaks a different language and you have no prior knowledge of navigating the country or city you will be living in. 

My second weekend studying abroad was spent in Interlaken, Switzerland where all the signs are in German, which resulted in me asking if anybody could translate the signs to English.

The initial skills I have learned while studying abroad in Italy not only includes adjusting to the daily life in Florence, but also learning how to travel on my own with only a WiFi connected phone to help me navigate around. Being in a foreign place has a mix of emotions: excitement, happiness, nervousness. New situations can be scary to anyone, but learning how to adapt to changes is one of the biggest skills I have learned while abroad. This could be trying to make it to your flight in Milan after you train got delayed in Florence. Or it could be figuring out what to do when your flight just got cancelled and you are supposed to be on your way to Amsterdam to meet you friend from back home. I learned that usually you just have to go with what happens and everything will eventually work itself out even if it changes your schedule. This skill can help anyone become better at traveling and, navigating life in general. Sometimes you just have to sit back and let the problem work itself out. 

Although everybody speaks English in London, it is still a challenge to navigate the streets with no conception of where to go and only a paper map to find your way around the large city.

Not only have I become very good at going with the flow when situations become difficult or complicated, but I have also learned how to start up conversations with people. I know what you are thinking; that is a weird skill to learn while studying abroad. But it is true! I was always good at talking to people but I would never just approach someone and start up a conversation, or start talking to some random person just because. Now one of my favorite things to do in a different country or place is to start conversations with locals. In London, right after we had said “this seat is free”, a conversation about the best things we should see in the city, and the differences between England and America began with a couple of locals. In Dublin, my friend and I were sitting at a table and the next thing we knew we were having a four-hour conversation with some nearby patrons. One of them happened to be a digital marketer and gave us advice for working in the digital marketing and graphic design field. Being open to trying new things and seeing new things, and being interested in other cultures has taught me you never know what you will experience or what you will learn about a place. Whatever does happen just adds to the stories that you can tell to family and friends for years to come.

The local social scene in Dublin takes place socializing with friends over a pint. When my friend and I went to this local bar we had an amazing conversation with a group of people from Dublin unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

Jordan Morrison is a student at the California State Polytechnic University at Pomona. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and studied abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy.

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