An image of a narrow street in Italy with colourful houses.

Semesters Abroad and Changing expectations

Abby is looking up towards an Italian cathedral.
Pictures provided by Abby!
This week, I decided to share a short interview with a friend of mine from U of T who was also doing a semester abroad. Hope you enjoy this short reflection piece! Abby: Studied at Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy for winter semester, called home in March due to CV outbreak. What were you expecting when you first arrived in Italy? Abby: Arriving in Italy I was sure that I had four incredible months stretching out in front of me, full of new friendships, adventures, travel, food (it IS Italy!) and self-discovery. I’ve planned to study abroad for years and eagerly talked to everyone I know who has gone in exchange before, asking about their experiences, advice, and if it was all worth it. And all of them, each for different reasons, gave me a resounding yes! When I arrived in Italy, I had a lot of these ideas flying through my head and also a sense of pressure to fulfill my high hopes for the semester. I expected things to be challenging, but mostly exciting.
Abby is smiling in front of a blue sky.
making the best of her experience in Italy
Have you had to change your expectations and plans in order to make the best of you time there? Abby: I’m actually outside of Italy now and taking all my courses online due to the recent lockdown of Milan’s region Lombardia and its expansion to all of Italy. I realized that the semester was no longer a given, but something to hope for, and started making the most of every trip and day we had in Italy. My friends and I took the time off from school and went to Tuscany for a week, since we knew our planned trips for the semester could very well fall through. And I am so grateful for those moments, as I prepare to return home. What has this experience taught you?
Abby is peeking out from a window of a large cathedral.
looking for the bright side!
Abby:  I may only have been abroad for just over a month, but it seems like so much longer because of all the incredible places I have seen, people I have met, and knowledge I have gained. The Coronavirus outbreak changed my entire semester and showed how quickly and unexpectedly things can change. Above all, I have learned never to take a moment for granted and that the future is not only uncertain, but also largely not in our control. It’s important to make the most out of these opportunities – no matter how long they are – so when things change and the future feels uncertain, you can leave with amazing memories, valuable lessons, and the knowledge that you can adapt to whatever comes your way. Thank you for sharing your amazing experience (and photos) with me Abby! Certainly, this semester has taught us many lessons, and I can't wait to go back home and share all of them with my friends and family. See you soon(-ish) Toronto!

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