Reflecting on my Study Abroad Experience

With only one month left of not only my study abroad experience, but my undergraduate years, I’m left thinking about the past couple months. I won’t lie: coming to Italy in my last semester at university was a difficult choice to make for more than one reason.

Firstly, I was very certain that I wanted to finish university in four years and did not see how I could manage studying abroad without adding at least one semester onto my plan. Second, I was very comfortable with my life at home and could not bare to think about leaving my family, my friends and my beloved university. Third, it seemed like the prospects of studying abroad was impossible for someone like me: a first-generation college student coming from a low-income, single parent household.

However, I knew studying abroad was something I had to do before I went out into the “real world”.  I planned semesters in advance, carefully calculated my class schedule, got the blessing of my loved ones and applied for scholarships.

So, despite how hard it was to leave my friends, family and university behind, I chose to study abroad in Florence, Italy in hopes of getting myself out of my comfort zone, immersing myself in a culture and place unfamiliar to me, and learning more about myself. In the end, I learned so much about not just Italian culture, but German, Hungarian, French and Belgian culture. I spent a lot of time self-reflecting as well, on my own culture.

Finally, I am truly grateful, because if it were not for the full tuition scholarship from SRISA and the grants from my home university, I could say I would not have been able to achieve my dreams of studying abroad and I would like to thank the staff at SRISA, UW-Madison and my family for being so supportive. I hope that I can help other students achieve their dreams of studying abroad in the future.

Below are a few pictures of myself the last three months:



-Lena Ali


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