Editor’s note: Allison is one of four 2016 Honors study abroad scholarship recipients. All are spending a month or more in Europe this summer.
Buongiorno from Italy!
I am beginning my fourth and final week in Italy and can’t believe my time here is almost over. Over the past several weeks, I have seen and done more than I ever imagined I would. I have been to the cities of Sansepolcro, Anghiari, Arezzo, Assisi, Perugia, Florence, Sorrento, Venice, and will soon be headed to Rome!
I am amazed at how much I have been able to pack into my time abroad. One thing that I was very surprised about when arriving in Italy is how much I would appreciate living in a smaller town. Sansepolcro is a wonderful, small community where owners close down their stores for lunch, and everyone walks the streets late at night to chat and catch up with their neighbors. Coming into study abroad, I was worried there wouldn’t be enough to do in this smaller town, but I soon realized after traveling away from Sansepolcro how lucky I am not to be living in a large metropolis.
About a week after arriving in Italy, all twenty-five of us living in the Meredith Palazzo made a day trip to Florence. I fell in love with Florence, but after spending only a few hours there I realized how thankful I am to be living in a small and truly Italian town. While I was exploring Florence, I felt like I met and spoke to more Americans than Italians. A lot of other schools send their students to large cities such as Florence to study abroad, but personally I feel like I am getting a much better sense of the Italian culture by being surrounded by an authentic Italian community.
One thing that I have learned about Italian culture while studying abroad is that life is a constant fashion show. Rarely have I seen an Italian who is not well dressed. Everywhere from the grocery store to the gelato shop, women show off their high heels and men sport their button downs. I remember the very first day I arrived in Sansepolcro, I had just gotten off the nine-hour flight and had not yet changed out of my comfortable clothes (which included a Meredith t-shirt and running shoes). Never before have I received so many strange looks in one night! From day one I learned never to be seen in casual or exercise clothing in public.
I am very sad that my time in Italy is coming to an end. I have met so many new people and have quickly become close friends with many girls from Meredith whom I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet. Hopefully one day I will be able to come back to Italy and the beautiful town of Sansepolcro, which I have had the honor of calling home these past few weeks.
-Allison Benedict ‘19