Stories that Shaped Us: Travel Blog 

Adam Marks is an ISA Florence alum and current ISA/TEAN Global Ambassador at Ohio University whose experience abroad during spring 2022 inspired him to embark on a journey throughout Europe.

We reached out to learn more about why he chose to go abroad with ISA Italy and to learn more about his travel adventures. Check out this unique story below.

I am a senior at Ohio University. I am a double business major in business management and analytics. I am originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I am a study abroad advisor at Ohio University’s Office of Global Opportunities, a member of the Men’s Lacrosse team, and founder of a student organization called Vinyl’s and Vibes. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy for five months in the spring of 2022. I studied international business and management during my time abroad along with a collection of cultural topics (Italian language, wine, food, Italian history, etc.). I chose to do independent housing and lived in the Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood in Florence. I lived with my girlfriend who attends another US university but joined the same ISA program. 

This picture was taken of me and my girlfriend, Eliana, while we were on about exploring the Island called Capri which lies outside of the Amalfi Coast in Italy

What inspired you to begin traveling? Why did you choose to study abroad in Italy?

Travel has always been important to me. Investing time and money in travel always seemed like an investment in my growth as a person. I have been privileged in that from a young age I have been able to travel to some amazing places like Thailand, South Africa, Mexico, Israel, and the United Kingdom. I have always valued experiences over materials. When entering college, I made studying abroad a priority by selecting a university with many abroad programs where I could plan my experience abroad way in advance. My trips as a kid sparked my passion and inspiration for travel. Traveling and seeing as much of the world as possible illustrates my most meaningful goal in life.

When deciding where to study abroad, I built a list of criteria. I knew that I wanted a place that was culturally unique. I wanted a relatively affordable area that provided accessibility to neighboring countries. In addition, I wanted a place with amazing food and beautiful scenery. Most importantly, I wanted to study in a place that was out of my comfort zone, but still felt approachable and home like. My family drew my attention to Florence, Italy as it was a favorite destination during my family’s past travels. After my initial research, Florence took my heart by storm. It quickly seemed like the only option for me as it is filled with amazing culture, food, history, architecture, and people. After my arrival in Florence, it proved to be the best choice I could have ever made. Florence immediately felt like home, and it provided me with a great central hub to travel around Europe from. The five months I lived in Italy was hands down the best five months of my life.

This picture is of my girlfriend (Eliana) and me in Venice, Italy while crossing the bridge over one of the canals
This picture was in an ancient Greek town on the top of a mountain in Milos, Greece
The photo above was taken of me in Santorini, Greece while on a hike across the northern part of the island

Which countries did you travel to independently throughout your program and what is a memorable experience you had in each country?

I had the chance to travel independently to several countries in Europe throughout my abroad experience. Aside from a long list of regions in Italy, I had the privilege to visit Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Portugal, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. Following my program, I also traveled back to Europe to visit Germany again in addition to Austria. Each trip varied in duration between a few days and two weeks. Each trip depicted a unique and immersive experience within a different country. Throughout my travels, I endured once in a life-time experiences. From the breath-taking views of Greek islands to the Historic Berlin Wall of Germany, each place carried its own unique magnificence.

Below I have provided a memorable experience in each country:

This picture was taken at along the East Side Gallery (Berlin Wall) in Berlin Germany with my good friend Daniel

Italy: During a weekend trip, my girlfriend and I took a train to a little town in Tuscany called Lucca. The old town sits within renaissance walls that surround the border. We walked around the top of the walls and through the streets of this amazing town. To this day, Lucca was the cutest and most relaxing town I have ever stepped foot in. So, if you are ever in Tuscany, this historic and romantic town is must!

Germany: When visiting Germany, I had the time to explore Berlin. Berlin is most known for its presence during WW2. One of my favorite memories in Berlin was visiting the East Side Gallery, along the remaining parts of the Berlin wall. This was one of my most memorable experiences in Germany. Artists from all over the world shared ideas and projects on the wall. The art works are authentic and extremely interesting.

This picture was taken of me in Milos, Greece while on hike. I stopped for a moment to take in the view

Greece: My favorite place in all of my travels was a little island in Greece named Milos. Every day in Milos was a surprise party. We visited during the off season, so we essentially were the only students/tourists on the island. This trip was one big adventure as we uncovered layer after layer of the amazing island. We were able to climb to the highest point on the island overlooking one the most beautiful views I have ever seen.

Eiffel tower at night in Paris, France
Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic. The bridge is one of the most famous remaining parts of the older city and is an absolute must see. It is absolutely beautiful and has an amazing view of the city

France: My favorite memory in France was laying eyes on the Eiffel tower at night as it sparkled. This was one of the most special moments during my travels.

Czech Republic: My favorite memory in the Czech Republic was walking around the streets in Prague and enjoying a beer. Prague has an extremely relaxed culture that is filled with relaxation and enjoyment.

Spain: My favorite part of Spain was a hike we did on a mountain a little outside of Barcelona. We hiked a mountain call Montserrat. The hike was extremely beautiful with breath-taking views and wildlife present. 

I took the picture above along the Arno River in Florence. It captures the beautiful river along with Ponte Vecchio (the only bridge spared during WW2)
This picture was taken in Montserrat, Spain. This was about a 4-hour hike with amazing views

Portugal: Lisbon was one of my favorite destinations during my travels. My favorite memory in Lisbon was trying the famous Pastel de Nata, a famous Portuguese delicacy. In addition, we took a day trip the Sintra Castle. This colorful castle provided one of the most unique experiences in my life. The castle sits on top of a large mountain and overlooks the town of Sintra.

This next picture captures a canal in Amsterdam at night as I walked around the city

Netherlands: I absolutely loved my experience in Amsterdam. My favorite memories were when strolling the beautiful and romantic streets. The city was filled with kind people and memorable sites. Amsterdam is an absolute must when traveling around Europe.

How did your abroad experience create lasting impacts in your life?

I learned more in the five months I spent in Europe, then I have in every other semester of college combined. My time abroad provided me with dozens of once in a lifetime experiences. I had many paradigm shifts during my time abroad and my perspective / view of the world shifted with every new place I visited. The entire trip was a never-ending learning experience with different challenges and endeavors every day. If I could give one piece of advice to my fellow students, it is to take the leap and study abroad. I promise you won’t regret it for a moment. I can confidently say that it was the best time of my life.

This picture was taken at the top of the Duomo in Milan, Italy. The roof of the famous Duomo carries breath taking views of the city

They say the food in Italy is like nothing else. Tell us one of your favorite meals you ate while you were there!

One of my favorite meals was the pesto pasta in Cinque Terre, within the region that pesto was first created. This meal is simple, but a delicacy that had an unbelievable taste that I can’t ever forget. In addition, I can’t write about Italian food and not mention the Pizza and the gelato! The food in Italy was nothing short of the best food I have ever tasted.

What was a favorite memory from your time abroad?

This is the hardest question. My time abroad was the best five months of life. The memory that sticks out most was sitting on a staircase near the beloved Piazza Michelangelo in Florence watching the sun go down with my friends. We sat there for about five hours laughing, talking about our time abroad, and taking in the beautiful Florentine skyline. Overall, each day had a favorite memory.

This is a picture of me and my girlfriend, Eliana, during a hike in the Greek islands
This picture was taken of me drinking my beloved espresso along a street side table in Rome
Venturing to a hidden beach in Milos, Greece. There was an adventurous hike / climb that led down to a secret beach

You had a unique housing situation while in Florence. What was it and how did it help you connect with the culture and other students in the area?

I chose to do independent housing and I lived in an apartment with my girlfriend who also studied abroad through ISA. We attend different universities in the U.S. and studying abroad gave us the opportunity to live together in Florence. Living in independent housing gave us an immersive and culturally rich experience. Our neighbors were from all around the world. We were able to meet and build relationships with native locals and residents from all over Europe.

This last picture of me is on my final weekend in Florence. It was taken of me while I left the Piazza Michelangelo for the last time. It captured a stunning Florentine sunset as I took my last glance of the beautiful city from a far

Curious to hear more from ISA/TEAN alumni? Read more blogs from Italy Alumni or discover additional travel tips throughout Europe.

Inspired by Adam’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in a study abroad program? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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