CISABROAD BLOG · September 24, 2018 · 4 Min Read
Taking Off, Letting Go | Student Reflection Blog from Italy

Jada got to Florence just over a month ago and is sharing her experience with all of us! Read on to hear about Jada’s process of adjusting to life abroad:

????, I’m Jada Choate, a college junior from Winthrop, Maine.  I am a vegan and proud sister of Alpha Chi Omega.  I’m currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Just a small town girl with a passion for travel and a fervor for experiences.  

CISabroad has been a key component of my experience.  

My site director has helped me transition to life in Florence. He has shown me the ins and out of the city, opening me up to the world of pasta and gelato! I feel that CISabroad has offered me a reference point and go-to for any questions I have in this new environment.  I have also had the opportunity to connect with students from other universities! My site director even brings along his dog, how cool is that?!

There is so much out there.  

This revolutionary realization hit me in full force shortly after my arrival in Florence, Italy.  I am a twenty-year-old female from an exceedingly ordinary town in rural Maine. I have always considered myself an “aspiring world-traveler.”  For as long as I can remember, I have been consumed by an overwhelming desire to experience the world. I have dreamed of places and people beyond the trees and backroads that surrounded me.  I have imagined myself immersed in other cultures, being enriched by all they had to offer. I have always felt ready to simply “go.”  However, something seemed to always be standing in the way.   

I was constantly obsessed by the rules I thought western society expected me to follow.  I was busy being “the good student,” preoccupied being “the good daughter.” I thought getting into the “right college” was the end-goal and that if I could just do that, then everything else would work itself out.  Maybe it’s simply American arrogance, but I thought my hard work would pay off. I thought I knew who I was, but somehow that was so different than what I wanted to be. I had been stuck in a perpetual wait for the life I dreamed of.  I accrued academic accolades, leadership positions, club memberships and fond praise. I used other’s recognition to justify waiting for my future. But, I was blatantly and utterly unaware of how lost I really was. I was trying to find success in accomplishments that were ultimately empty.  

It is funny how it takes completely falling apart to realize what really matters.  

This cliché became my reality. Breaking down made me acknowledge the fact that it was time for a drastic change, the waiting couldn’t go on a second longer.  I had somehow ended up inside an existence that had led to the complete deterioration of me.  At that moment, I decided to get on a plane and I knew I would never return to my old way of life.  

What could go wrong?

I didn’t even care as long as it wasn’t more of the same static nothingness I had come to know so well.  I had to leave behind who everyone thought I was and fully commit to the identity and life I knew resided within me. As the plane became airborne, I knew everything would change and I was so glad.

Fa18_semester in florence ISI_Jada Choate_Quinnipiac University_small pizza

I have been living in Italy for a month now.  

Everywhere I look there are faces. Each face is a mystery.  These people are strangers. However, somehow, I know so many of them already.  I was shocked to find countless people abroad that perfectly resemble those that I had hoped to leave behind at home.  The arrogant, belligerently drunk frat boy somehow exists here too. (Sorry ladies, guess we can’t get away from them quite yet).  The financially endowed female, consumed by insecurities regarding self-image and social perception walk side-by-side among them. Why it is impossible to comprehend that there is a way of life that doesn’t include constantly blacking out?  I guess American students abroad don’t always have a radical value change even 4,000 miles away from home. At the end of the day, we are young and blessed to have this amazing opportunity of living abroad for four months. However, that reality is so diverse in meaning based upon the perspective of the individual.  I hope to find and lose myself here. I hope to meet people that are not like the ones I tried to leave behind. I hope I am able to experience the world through wide-eyes and an open heart.

There is so much out there…I want to see it all, I want to feel it all.  

Thank you for coming along on the journey!


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!

Interested in heading to Florence in the spring? Check out the Semester in Florence – Florence University of the Arts or browse all of our Italy programs.