Where Have I Been?! Studying Abroad?!

I know, I know…don’t hate me for not blogging for about 4 months now. I figured I owed you an explanation as to why I have been gone for so long..I mean I feel like I have a pretty good one too.

So, I recently just got back from studying abroad in Florence, Italy for a month. I was gone from the end of May to the end of June. Talk about a life experience. Let me just clarify, that by writing this blog I am in no way trying to brag about my experience or anything like that AT ALL. I feel so incredibly blessed and over joyed that I was able to have the opportunity to study abroad. Ever since high school I told myself I was going to study abroad, and to have that dream finally come true….I was pretty much speechless the whole trip to say the least. So, I figured I would let you all in on some things I learned along the way, not only about myself, but culturally as well.

First off: MONEY ISN’T EVERYTHING. BUT, IT IS SOMETHING 

Before traveling, I never really valued the importance of money as much as I do now. I am very fortunate to be able to say that my parents pretty much paid for everything when I was growing up. I soon learned that going out to dinner, surely was not all that cheap. And cups of gelato, being only about 2 euros…seemed cheap enough, eventually does add up. Especially when you choose to get gelato once a day. Ugh, okay twice a day sometimes. But only SOMETIMES I swear.

I hope one day I am wealthy enough to go back to the places I visited during my study abroad experience and not have to come back home as an in-debt college student. However, those days that I spent as an in debt college student trekking through the cities of Europe is something I will always remember. So thank you Italy, for making me value the importance of money and realizing that money surely can’t buy happiness, but it can buy gelato….which is kind of the same thing.

Second: TRAVEL IS NOT AS HARD AS PEOPLE MAKE IT OUT TO BE

Wait what?! Yes, that’s right. I once was just like you thinking “wow traveling is SO expensive, I don’t know how people do it”. Think again. Let me start by saying that before this trip, I was definitely one of those people who thought that traveling was meant to be this big lavish vacation, with expensive hotels, and first class plane tickets. When I got to Italy and my friends and I started discussing all the places we wanted to travel and go see, I soon realized that money can’t hold you back. If you travel with the goal of experiencing the world, traveling on a budget is not only possible but actually kind of easy.

I got to experience Spain, Greece, and Rome while I was over there and let me tell you….when you can get a plane ticket for only 80 euros ROUND TRIP, it is hard not to go everywhere. My mindset of fancy hotels soon changed when I landed in Barcelona, Spain and walked into my very first hostel to stay at. “This actually isn’t bad for 30 euros a night”, I thought to myself. I realized that I was saving money on all of the “luxury” vacation items for a much bigger picture. I was getting the opportunity to see the world and all that is has to offer, without spending a fortune.

Third: I AM MUCH MORE INDEPENDENT THAN I EVER IMAGINED

Picture this, me driving around my town that I have lived in for more than 15 years now and still getting lost to my best friend’s house. Yeah, that was pretty much my life growing up driving. Constantly getting lost no matter where I went and having to hear my Australian GPS say “Recalculating” every 10 seconds.

Now, after spending a month abroad, I am much more aware of things. I learned very fast that getting lost in a foreign country just wasn’t going to be an option, especially without a GPS. Not only did I manage to find my way around Italy fairly easy, but I learned to navigate a REAL map. I traveled around Europe, by train, plane, and interacted with people from all around the world….all without my mother on speed dial (for the most part) lol.

Fourth: LANGUAGE ISN’T A BARRIER – LANGUAGE IS MORE OF AN OBSTACLE

Not knowing a language should never hold you back from traveling to a certain place.  Most places we went to, there was at least one person who spoke English. And even if there wasn’t, for the most part we were able to communicate either with our hands or the typical “tourist” thing by pointing at what we wanted. UGH, I hated to be that typical tourist. You know, it’s funny when you travel you try so hard to fit in with the culture and not “stand” out. My friends and I would always make an attempt to speak the language, and they actually respect and appreciate you a lot more when you do so. My friends and I pretty much became ‘Flocals” by the end of our trip. A little term we made up meaning, ‘Florence Locals’, or so we like to think. Even though everywhere we went we were typically approached with  “Shakira?!”. I don’t know what it is about Shakira but if you are from the United States you are suddenly Shakira. I mean, I wasn’t complaining..

Somehow they just know that you are from the U.S. before you even say a word.

Fifth: WE ARE NOT THE BAD DRIVERS

If you think LA driving is bad, wait till you visit a foreign country. I don’t even think traffic laws exist. Forget the whole “pedestrians have the right away”, if you get in a cars way, don’t expect them to stop. I can’t even tell you how many times I almost got ran over from a car going like 50 mph down a narrow alleyway with A BUNCH of people in sight. If you aren’t part of the fast pace Italian lifestyle, then stay out of the way.  Taxi drivers, now that’s a whole other story. Let’s just say, a taxi driver going 90 mph to get you to the airport, totally normal.

Last But Not Least: LIFE HAS SO MUCH TO OFFER

Something about studying abroad and traveling just makes you appreciate life THAT much more. Life has so much to offer and it is way too short to be unhappy. Before going to Italy, I felt almost lost and scared that I still didn’t know what I was doing with my life. But I learned that IT’S OKAY. You will figure it out eventually, it’s all part of the process. Learn, grow, get out of your comfort zone, experience life on a whole different level, and LIVE. I may not be sure where I am going in life, but I do know one thing, it’s a beautiful process and I am along for the ride.

So that’s what I’ve been doing these past months. I am so sad that I didn’t blog throughout my time staying there. Trust me, I wanted to, but I was just so busy and honestly just wanted to live in the moment. AS CHEESY AS THAT SOUNDS.

But anyways, I am BACK and ready to blog again. It’s crazy how much excitement and happiness I get from blogging. I missed it so much. I hope you all enjoyed reading about my “life lessons” I have learned during my travels. If you are interested in seeing pictures from my trip, I will leave my Instagram down below :)

“Travel is rebellion in its purest form. We follow our hearts. We free ourselves from labels. We lose control willingly. We trade a role for reality. We love the unfamiliar. We trust strangers. We own only what we can carry. We, sometimes choose to never come back.” <3

xo,

-Kelsey

Stay Connected with Me:

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