Kathleen Flynn – Florence, Italy

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Wells Beach, ME (QU301 Spring2015)

The quote: “Go forth seeking adventure. Open your eyes, your ears, your mind, your heart, your spirit and you’ll find adventure everywhere,” by Wilferd A. Peterson stands very important to me. I couldn’t imagine a life without traveling or adventure, experiencing a completely different culture, and becoming so vulnerable that I find myself learning more about myself and the world than I would anywhere else. In my opinion, exposing ourselves to a new way of life and new people is key to making life meaningful. It benefits not only the individual, but also his or her’s community by bringing a different way of thinking or feeling back home. Studying abroad is a sort of “Rite of Passage” where we come out of the experience transformed in one way or another. However, this transformation can only occur if we are able to let down our guard and all reservations, open our eyes, ears, mind, and heart to all aspects of the culture. Only by doing this can we really come out with a new understanding of the world or another country’s culture.

The value of an experience such as studying abroad is exactly what I feel I need in my life. I’ve grown up in the same small town of Maine surrounded by the same people who, for the most part, share the same general opinions. My town especially lacks diversity; the majority of my town consists of white, middle class Catholics. As I thought more about what it means to be open-minded and have a global mindset, I found that I haven’t really been exposed to different opinions or mindsets. While searching for colleges I knew I needed to get away, at least from Maine, so that I could begin opening my mind to new perspectives. Furthermore, it would not be enough to simply experience a life away from my home state, I would need to experience a new country. Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity for me to do this.

I chose to study abroad in Florence, Italy specifically because I have always been drawn to the art and food culture of this country, but have only really experienced the Americanized version of Italian culture. Florence is also home to the Art Renaissance, which has always interested me, and what better way to learn about it then in the city where the Renaissance started. While I want to be in an area where English is still spoken, I don’t want being surrounded by American tourists to take away from my experience. This is another reason why I chose Florence because I will get a taste of Italian culture without too much interruption of American influence. Additionally, I hope that by staying in Italy I will have the opportunity to visit a number of other European countries because of its proximity and accessibility to the rest of western Europe.

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