CISABROAD BLOG · July 6, 2016 · 3 Min Read
Reflections on Traveling Alone in Florence, Italy | Student Blog

Joli Katz

Jolie is a Junior Exercise Science major at the University of Delaware. This summer she is spending six weeks studying in Florence, Italy with CISabroad. Join her as she discovers this beautiful city.

I have always been an outgoing person. Sitting in a room talking to strangers, friends, and especially family has come easily to me. However, while on my search for a study abroad program that was right for me, I couldn’t help but be overtaken with anxiety. I was traveling alone. I was going to a country I have never been to, not knowing anything more than 3 basic words in Italian, and not knowing anyone that was going. So, while the outgoing side of me was elated for the experience I had ahead of me, my introverted side couldn’t help but worry about how this experience would actually turn out.

The way I felt arriving in Florence was one I couldn’t really explain. I pulled up to my apartment in a taxi to see one of my roommates sitting on the steps. I smiled and waved, until I realized that I had no clue what my roommates looked like and I was just assuming she was in the same boat as me. Luckily, she was one of the four girls I would be living with. I guess its safe to say that my assumptions come from watching too many episodes of Real World (not even going to try to pretend like I don’t watch it). I mean, it does sound familiar: five strangers living together in a location they have never been before, each pulling up in a taxi arriving one by one. But, unlike the Real World, my roommates and I meshed well together, having no drama or fights at all. And because of this I realized that traveling alone was the best thing I could have done.

Traveling alone has pushed me out of my comfort zone. It forced me to open up and let people in, pay attention to my surroundings and learn directions, and gain social interactions that I didn’t know I needed. Walking around in Florence I’ve gotten lost a few times. I had to ask Italians to help me find my way. I did this by communicating with them almost non-verbally. This taught me how to interact with people who are different than me. Forcing myself to know the area because I could not rely on family or friends showed me that reading a map can actually be better than wasting what little data I have on Google maps. And, coming back to my apartment wanting to tell someone about my day forced me to open up to the new people I was living with. While having a friend or two on the trip would have made things easier for me, I’m realizing now it is a crutch that I don’t need. At the end of the day, there were plenty of people on my program traveling alone too, which created an even stronger bond between us.

I have always been the person who thought studying abroad was an essential opportunity to take advantage of in college. So, I can promise you that studying abroad alone will give you the same exact experience that you would’ve gotten studying with people you know. It is scary, uncomfortable, and even a little frustrating at times; but it is also beautiful, exciting, and new to be doing it all on your own. I would regret it every day if I didn’t go abroad because I didn’t want to travel alone. Because now I know that the anxiety goes away, the loneliness is minimal, and the possibilities are endless.

On the CIS Abroad blog, we share student-written content and information for students, advisors, other study abroad professionals, and families of students studying abroad. Check out our Facebook and Instagram for more from us and our students!