The CSU study abroad program is a life-changing experience
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 9, 2012 15:09
The sun glints off the wet cobblestone and as you walk by a group of dogs, they stop momentarily to sniff your shoes. You hear an old man chattering and laughing loudly with a woman across the street, standing in the doorway of a wine shop.
You understand a few phrases here and there, but you’re really only listening to the beautiful words and the staccato sounds they make.
You pass an old building with a plaque that reads in Italian, “This is the house of Dante Alighieri,” and you run your hands over the bumpy stone that has been there for who knows how long.
You pass by a group of children playing with their parents sitting in the restaurant behind them, smoking and drinking wine. You look around as you walk and you realize … I belong here.
This is Florence, Italy, but to me it’s not just a place on a map or a picture off of Google images.
It’s my home. It’s my Florence, but one year ago that wasn’t true.
Two months ago, I stepped off a plane back onto American soil after a year of studying Italian culture, language and literature.
I am a former participant of the Cal State University International Program Study Abroad — a program that changed my life. Being one of five children, my family has never indulged in expensive opportunities.
When I found out the CSU study abroad program was something I could afford, I took advantage of it. The process was easier than I thought, and soon after applying I found myself on a plane leaving the country for the very first time. Needless to say, I was terrified.
A year later, I have visited 13 countries and more than 50 famous cities, and my year of travel stretched from Morocco all the way to the Turkey.
I learned about life, people, the world and myself. I can say with confidence I am a better person because of it.
Not only did I travel the world, but I also became an Italian. I ate like an Italian, walked like an Italian, dressed like an Italian and spoke like an Italian. I was a different person; I was living a dream and it was so real.
It’s the conversation you have with someone who doesn’t speak your language or flying out to a different country for the weekend. It’s the friendships you make with people you meet in Turkey or who invite you to their wedding in Scotland. It’s standing on a mountain in the Swiss Alps feeling like you’re flying or looking at the night sky in the Sahara desert and knowing you’ll never see so many stars.
It’s drinking beer with some Germans at Oktoberfest or walking out of St. Peter’s Basilica to see it snow in Rome for the first time in 30 years.
It’s being able to walk down the street in Florence and know you belong.
It’s simple, it’s affordable and it will change your life. I guarantee it.
Felicity Landa is senior double major studying creative writing and Italian and a contributing writer for the Daily 49er.