By Bella Ferretti
I’ll never forget everyone telling me, “You’re going to come back a new person after studying abroad.” As a Florida State University (FSU) student, I had heard nothing short of amazing things about the several international programs, which sparked my interest to apply. Although I knew that studying abroad would affect my life, I never expected the volume of impact it would have on my perception of the world.
To put my experience into words would be impossible, but I can say that I grew in countless ways, and I’m forever indebted to FSU Valencia, Valencia itself, FSU Garnet apartment one, the people I met along the way and, of course, my best friends. My scope of the world was opened further than my hometown, college campus and occasional travel vacations.
I learned that the people in Spain are very softspoken (my friends and I found this out the hard way). I learned that bikes are the main source of transportation for locals in Amsterdam. I learned that people in Europe tend to work to live rather than live to work. I learned that the best stargazing spot in Morocco is the tallest dune in the Sahara Desert. The list could go on for days, but what all of this has taught me was that life isn’t about what’s coming up next, but rather what’s right in front of you. I realized that I was constantly living by looking for the next best thing instead of taking a step back and appreciating the beauty of now.
Having immersed myself into several different cultures and meeting hundreds of different people, I felt a sense of gratitude for this abroad experience as well as my life at home. Throughout my six weeks in Valencia, traveling Europe, taking classes, and living in an eight-girl apartment, I was the most present I had ever been in my life. I raised my hand in class, introduced myself to strangers, booked flights, planned weekend trips, woke up early, went to bed late and lived every day like it was my last. I was eager to explore and embrace independence, which allowed me to take in everything that I saw and learn lessons that will guide me through the rest of my life. To say that these were the best six weeks of my life is an understatement and I cannot recommend studying abroad enough.
For more information about FSU International Programs, visit https://international.fsu.edu/.