By: Lizzie DeLeone, Wasserman Global Peer, NYU Florence (Fall 2019)
If someone told me a year ago that I would be spending my first year of college away in a foreign country, I would have thought they were insane. When I found out I was to spend the whole first year abroad in Florence, Italy, I wasn’t sure how to react. I was grateful for the opportunity and excited to live in Italy, but worried about being so far from home and nervous about making friends.
We moved in on August 26th, 2019 and orientation week began. One of those days, we had the first of many immigration appointments for a special document needed to study in Italy. We met with our residence hall manager outside our dorm, and she guided us to the bus stop. As she’s explaining how the ATAF bus system works and where we get off, I struggled to picture myself able to do this alone. I come from a small town in the midwest where public transportation is almost nonexistent, so the proposition of trying to navigate it in a separate country in a different language was daunting to say the least. As we reach our stop and get off, she explains we’ll walk this route all the time and become familiar with the whole area. I was skeptical.
A few activities helped me with this life transition into a completely different culture from my own. The first was volunteering at “Le Curandaie” every week to dance with children and teens who have disabilities. This was an especially rewarding and close to home experience for me, and I would recommend it to anyone. I was able to form relationships with these kids and speak to them in their language, and I will never forget my time there.
Being a Global Peer for the Wasserman Center was also an important aspect of my time at NYU Florence. It allowed me to get to know my peers better, all while helping them with cover letter writing, resume building, and general job search inquiries. I learned how to be a leader and perform tasks given to me with confidence I didn’t have before.
These opportunities where I was able to reach out of my comfort zone and try new experiences reduced much of the stress I started with, and allowed Florence to feel like a second home.