Kayla Bailey

Major: Dietetics
Class: Junior
Timeframe: Spring 2024
Type of Experience: Study abroad
Program: Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute
Destination: Italy

Overall Experience

My experience studying abroad in Italy was absolutely amazing and something I will never forget! I was living in Florence, which was the most beautiful city, and the cities and countries I got to visit during my four months was incredible. It was very cool being able to continue my education while immersing myself in a completely different culture. I enjoyed my courses and had some excellent teachers that I got to know very well. During the weekdays, I would spend my time in Florence and focus on school and exploring the city, and on the weekends I would travel to many different places inside and outside of Italy.

Learning experience

The most valuable learning experience I encountered was all the setbacks while traveling around Europe. When traveling each weekend for about four months, you will encounter issues with the actual travel journey or the city you are staying in. I learned that patience and adaptability are essential. The train systems in Italy are not always the most reliable as there are plenty of delays and sometimes strikes, but you have to take these setbacks and use them to your advantage and enjoy every second as much as you can. I now have a different perspective on life as I have been exposed to more of what the world is about and all the other cultures.

Memorable experience

One of the most memorable experiences I have from my time abroad would be the last time watching the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo. This is a spot where many people go to get a fantastic view of the city and hang out with friends while listening/watching the live performers. Piazzale Michelangelo was my favorite spot in Florence, and I would take walks up to the top at least once a week. When it was my last time up there, my friends and I reflected on how amazing the semester was, how much we’ve grown, and all of the memories we made across the world together. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to the city, but knowing it will hold a special place in our hearts forever.

What did you not expect?

I did not expect life in Italy to be so relaxed and laid back. In America, I am constantly in a rush or anxious about doing something or being somewhere, but in their culture, they just go with the flow. If they are late, that’s okay, and I learned that I can take a break and relax before rushing into the next activity. Another thing I did not expect is how slow they walk and how they are perfectly fine with invading your personal space. At first, I was confused and annoyed by how close they would get to me, but once understanding their lives living in downtown Florence I could understand them. Every store/restaurant you enter is tiny, giving people no room to stay out of your space. If one grows up in these conditions, they will not even realize they are close to you because it is normal for them.

What advice would you give?

My advice for students who want to study abroad or are thinking about it is just to do it. You may never be able to live in another country for four months with this slim of responsibilities. Besides the minimal school work you must complete, you get to explore your city and cities inside and outside of your country and gain so much knowledge through the experiences. It is truly an experience of a lifetime, and I do not have a single regret. Once you choose to study abroad, the advice is to find what makes you happy and not be afraid to talk to everyone. The more people you talk to, the more connections and knowledge you will gain and make some awesome friends.

How has this experience impacted your life?

Studying abroad was the most significant learning experience in my personal, educational, and professional growth. Being away for four months allowed me to grow my independence. There are many times when you are solo and must navigate the things you may or may not have wanted to encounter. Each step is a learning curve and helped me learn much about myself. In my educational journey I found the cooking class I took educated me and inspired me to pursue my major as I study dietetics. The course took a deep dive into food production and intrigued me by the ingredients used. As a future dietitian, studying abroad really gave me a new perspective on how to help my future clients, as I am more knowledgeable in more cultures now.

How did you learn about this experience?

I had always heard about studying abroad but only knew a little about it until my brother decided to study in Barcelona for the semester. He also attended Iowa State, which opened the idea up for me to look into it, and watching him have such a fantastic experience made me want to do the same. Since my freshman year, I planned my schedule out to be able to study abroad for the semester.

International Connections