The Real Truth

I have been living in Florence for about one week and let me tell you, it has not been easy.  You always see people’s study abroad pictures on Instagram and you hear amazing stories from their trip but something no one talks about is the feeling when you first step off the plane in a brand new foreign country.  I don’t want to scare anyone out of studying abroad because everyone should most definitely study abroad at some point in their college careers. I am just shining a light on the fact that study abroad isn’t always smiling and happy go luck travels.  Sometimes it’s scary and stressful and you get homesick, and that is something no one speaks about.  

However, there’s a reason no one speaks about it, not just because no one likes talking about the times when they felt defeated but also because studying abroad has so many more positives than negatives, you just have to make it through the first week to find out about it.  

They tell you all about culture shock before you leave New Paltz but for some reason, I thought that it wouldn’t happen to me.  Well, I was wrong. I was “culture shocked” from the moment the airplane landed in Italy. I desperately needed a coffee and when I went up to the coffee counter there was no menu.  People were just drinking out of ceramic cups on the counter…nothing like the Starbucks on campus. I asked for a normal coffee and I got an espresso that maybe took two sips to drink, and I had to pay with Euros!  

I’ll be the first to admit that I cried on the phone to my mom almost every night this week.  I was extremely jet-lagged but most of all scared. This was so out of my comfort zone and everyone was new to me.  The people studying abroad at Lorenzo de Medici are from all over the USA and some from other countries, so even my classmates are part of a different culture than I am.

However, I keep reminding myself just how lucky I am to be able to have this opportunity, and I know that once I get more comfortable here, this study abroad experience will become incredible and I will never want to leave.  

It has already been one week and life here is getting much better, I am fully adjusted to the time difference, and I have explored already so much of the city of Florence.  Florence is absolutely beautiful. In order for me to get to class or anywhere in the city center, I have to walk over a bridge with has an amazing view of the famous Ponte Vecchio.  Also, I have to walk past the Duomo to get to my classes which takes my breath away every time I see it.  

I am living in an apartment with 3 other girls studying abroad here.  None of us knew each other beforehand, so it’s really cool to get to know them.  Also, my apartment is so huge and decorated in an old Italian style. There are brick arches, Italian patterned tile, Italian books on the bookshelf, and paintings of religious figures. I have all of my belongings unpacked and it is already starting to feel like home.  

My transition to living in Italy was not as smooth as I thought it was going to be but that is okay.  Change is difficult and this was a huge change for me. Going to a foreign country not knowing anyone, not knowing the language, and not knowing the culture is so scary but, it is such a great learning experience.  

In just one week I have learned so much about myself and I am so proud of myself for embarking on this journey across the world.  

I can not wait to share the rest of my 4-month Italian journey with you guys! Ciao!

24 Hours Left…

Flight from New York to Rome, Train from Rome to Florence, Check-in at the University, get apartment keys and walk with my luggage to my apartment.  This is my travel itinerary that I keep repeating to myself as if I’m afraid I’m going to forget a step.  

Right now there are about 24 hours until I begin my journey to Florence, Italy to study abroad for the Spring 2020 semester.  I have never been outside the country besides driving to Canada a few times and going on a cruise to Bermuda when I was eight.  

I am full of so many mixed emotions, I am nervous yet so excited.  Some of my current worries that are on my mind are; Am I going to be able to make friends?  Am I going to be able to budget my money efficiently or am I going to run out of money and not do the things I want to do?  Am I going to stick out like an “American” too much with my horrible Italian skills and my non-mistaking Long Island accent?  Am I going to get really homesick? These are all questions that are spiraling through my mind as I pack the last of my things.    

However, not all of my thoughts are worries, I have been preparing and researching a lot for this and I can not wait to experience everything Itlay has to offer me.  I am most excited about all the traveling I will be doing. I have always had a sense of wanderlust but I never really had the opportunity to travel before this.  

When I’m studying abroad I want to take advantage of it all.  Go on as many weekend trips as I can, see things that I may never be able to see again, and eat as many new foods as possible.  Thankfully I have a ton of friends and family that have traveled to Italy before me and they all recommended so many restaurants and foods to try.  When I say I have a lot of recommendations, I mean I have a ten-page typed list of places to try, there are so many places on my list that even though I will be living in Florence for a whole semester I am not going to have the time to try them all.  

Even before I got to Florence I learned that the culture is very different than New York.  I have been a New Yorker my entire life and that being said, I live a pretty fast-paced life and always plan things months in advance.  At New Paltz, we get our schedule for the next semester and our On-Campus housing arrangements before we even finish the current semester.  

At Lorenzo de’ Medici, the Italian University I will be studying at, they do things a lot differently.  I got my schedule of classes about a month ago and I got my apartment location and the names of my three random roommates four days before arrival!  

Of course, as soon as I got my apartment address I looked up where it was on Google Maps and I toured the surrounding area using the ‘Google Maps Street View’.  My apartment is very old and beautiful and is attached to a Gelato place.  I can walk out of my front door and get fresh Gelato every single day. This will be so tempting but I’m sure after about a week of eating Gelato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner I will soon realize I need to maybe make it more of a treat item.  

Also, when I found out where my apartment was I messaged my friend from my hometown on Long Island who is currently studying in Florence through a different University, to see if we are going to live close to each other.  Turns out, we are living even closer than we do back home (and we live three blocks away), our apartments in Florence are literally 700 feet from each other! What a small world! Having someone there from back home definitely is making this huge transition a lot more comforting.  

I have been saying my goodbyes to my friends and family for weeks at this point, every time I’ve done something over winter break someone always found the opportunity to say “this is the last time we’ll…”  But, I just have to remind them and myself that this isn’t the “last time” I’ll ever see them, I’ll be home in approximately 3 and a half months. However, this is the longest amount of time I’ve ever been away from home and away from my family and friends. But, I’m glad that didn’t stop me from applying to this study abroad opportunity.  

This experience will most definitely make me step out of my comfort zone but I’m ready for it.  I can’t wait to make Florence, Itlay my new home across the globe.


A Milano Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday- it’s a holiday that my family goes all out for. When I was younger, we would sit around the dining room table on Thanksgiving eve and write out gratitude leaves. My mom would make so many dishes- main and side- all from scratch! I always admired her hard work on this holiday. Then, on Thanksgiving day, my grandma, aunt, and cousins (all 20 of them), would come in the afternoon and we’d spend the day eating delicious food and watching Star Wars. Being away from home on Thanksgiving was going to be tough, so I decided to throw my first Thanksgiving with my flatmates and friends who I made abroad. Half of us are American, so we celebrate Thanksgiving every year. But for the other half of us, this was their first Thanksgiving! It really was special to me that I got to share one of my favorite holiday with people of all different backgrounds.

Another thing about me- I L O V E cooking. I made chicken cutlets (because here in Milan, turkey is REALLY expensive), corn, green beans, gravy and an apple crisp. Others brought mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, veggie lasagna, tiramisu, chocolate cake and lots and lots of wine. It definitely was a Milanese Thanksgiving haha.

We spent hours playing card games, eating good food, chatting and more! It was one of my favorite Thanksgiving’s that I’ve spent so far. I am so grateful for all of the people who came- and some who couldn’t make it 🙁 These people are unapologetic and kind and intelligent. I’m so glad I had this opportunity to be here in Milan. I don’t want to leave just yet!

A Weekend in Sale

This past weekend, my good friend Christine (who attends my Italian university full time), invited me to spend the weekend at her family’s home in Sale, Italy!

About an hour outside of Milan, Sale is in the Piemonte region. Compared to Milan, Sale is completely rural- there are huge masses of land where people tend crops, raise chickens, goats and other farm animals, with only 4,000 inhabitants. For my whole life, I’ve lived in an urban setting. I’ve visited rural parts of the United States but never had a experience actually living in a setting like that- the closest I’ve gotten to living in a rural setting is by being a student at New Paltz. But even then, I still never experienced living on an actual farm.

I was thrilled when she extended the invitation. In the past year, I’ve grown a huge passion towards agriculture and living a sustainable life. Farm life has begun to intrigue me and I felt that going to Sale- even if its only for a weekend- could give me a tiny glimpse onto what it is like in a pastoral landscape.

It truly felt like a home away from home! Her family was warm and inviting, and it was nice to be somewhere that was so opposite of what I’m used to- not only in the states, but here in Italy as well!

Sale will always hold a place in my heart- and I’ll definitely be back at least once in my lifetime!

London, Venice and More Oh My!

While studying abroad, I have been fortunate to do a ton of traveling- both in and out of Italy!

My first trip was to Cinque Terre. It was my birthday weekend; my friends and I visited each of the towns in one day! Each offered a different experience but they all had one thing in common- an amazing view. Cinque Terre was only a 2 hour train ride from Milan, making it a super accessible but fun trip!

After that, I flew to Prague and London! My sister had planned to travel to Prague coincidentally during the time that I’d be in Italy, so we thought it was a perfect weekend to meet up. My sister is 6 years older than me and lives in another state, so seeing her had made me so happy- who knew we’d be in Prague, TOGETHER?! It truly made my heart full.

London has to be one of my favorite cities I have ever visited! It was so metropolitan, and nostalgic. Everywhere I went felt sophisticated and chic. There, I visited shops and pubs, walking along townhouses in Notting Hill, while stopping to drink tea or eat falafel pockets (which were SO yummy). Being in London made me SO happy. I definitely will go back to visit one day.

And lastly, my most recent trip that I did happened to be with my dad! At my university, we just had our mid-semester break and my dad was lucky enough to get some days off so, he flew all the way to Milan and we took a “road trip” of Italy. We went to Lake Como, Venice, and Florence. All of the places were so different from one another; it is mind-boggling to me how you can be in the same country yet certain parts are so vastly different from each other! All were beautiful in their own unique way. Visiting all 3 places were truly enriching, especially with my dad by my side.


Now that midterms are over, I finally feel like I can give you all a clear view into what I think about the courses I am taking here!

At SUNY New Paltz, I am quite ahead of course requirements. Because of this, my advisor gave me the freedom to take what I please and of what piqued my interest. So, here at Cattolica in Milan I am taking four courses: A Mafia Story: Its Representation in Literature, Cinema, and TelevisionFashion Images and the City of Milan: A Sociological Perspective on Modern Italian FashionCitizenship and Religion in a Multicultural Society: A New Clash of Identities in Italy and Europe? and The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture. All are vastly different from each other, and don’t necessarily have a correlation with my major and minor at home (which is Sociology with a Human Services concentration, and a minor in Deaf Studies), however, I do really enjoy them.

A Mafia Story: Its Representation in Literature, Cinema, and Television would have to be my favorite. In my Sophomore Year of high school (5 years ago) I was introduced to American mobster movies: Casino, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale… you get the idea. I was always fascinated on the topic, but only got my information about the mafia solely through these movies- I had no other outlets. In this course, I learn about the history of the ‘mafiosi’; how it originated, where it originated and how it is represented in both Italian and American media platforms. I even watched The Godfather for the first time as one of my homework assignments! This class has truly opened my eyes into a huge and important part of Italy’s history: specifically in Sicily. My professor is knowledgable and passionate about this subject, and it truly has rubbed off onto me.

Fashion Images and the City of Milan: A Sociological Perspective on Modern Italian Fashion is the only class that I’m taking that will give me credit towards my major (elective). Since becoming a sociology major, I can’t help but think of everything from a sociological perspective… its in my nature. However this class does more than that- it has taught me about important fashion designers, and how moments in history really affect the world of fashion. When I was little, I dreamed of being a fashion designer. I never really knew why but this class brings me back to that dream, but in a different way. I would never really consider myself stylish, but now I find myself wanting to express in the form of fashion and style, and help others too. It really is enthralling.

Citizenship and Religion in a Multicultural Society: A New Clash of Identities in Italy and Europe? is a class that took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to take it, and to be honest, it was sort of a last minute resort. I didn’t know what I was going into but it has been a pleasant surprise. In this course we look at the history of citizens and societies within Italy and Europe from a philosophical and anthropological perspective, and how these factors have changed over time with modernization. Its very complex, and I often fumble with my words, so I’ll spare you the details 😉

And lastly, The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture. I am lowkey, a literature nerd. I took two AP English courses in my high school, and a few at SUNY New Paltz- including The Novel and Women in Literature (which I highly recommend). The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture is another course I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to. We analyze female characters in books, operas, and movies written by both male and female Italian creators. Like I said, I love literature, and since I’ve taken a Women in Lit course at New Paltz, this class has been nothing but fun for me. I’ve found so many books outside of American and British literature that I now want to read.

Not only are the classes intriguing, but the professors are all super sweet and compassionate. I express my worries to them, or even my curiosities, and they are always there to help and engage.

Overall, I appreciate Cattolica for providing us international students with interesting courses I could never take elsewhere, and for sparking a newfound curiosity within me.

0-100 Real Quick: Dealing with Culture Shock in Milan

This post is loooonngggg overdue. I’ve been caught up with traveling and assignments and just living my life that I haven’t had much time to sit on my computer and be consistent with this blog (which I will work on from here on out). However, tonight I am feeling motivated! I went out to dinner with my close friends that I’ve made here; it was the first time I stayed out past 9PM here in Milan. Being out late made me realized how living in Milan no longer feels like a foreign feeling, but like second nature to me. So, I thought, why not use this time to reflect on the changes and differences in cultural norms I experienced during my first weeks here in Milan.

The food here is all pasta and cheese and meat! Sounds like a dream to most right? As a vegetarian/vegan, I actually found it quite hard to go out to restaurants and find a vegetarian/vegan option, let alone find a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. However, I did make friends (unintentionally) who all happen to be vegetarian! We make it our mission to find good vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and we’ve stumbled upon a few so far.

Dress here also happens to be completely different than what I am used to. After all, I am in the fashion capital of the world! At home, I am used to wearing off-the-shoulder tops, jeans and my vans or boots everywhere I go- overall, super casual. Here, you are expected to be more modest yet still fashionable. Exposed skin definitely gets you some glares but it is something I’ve come accustomed to- my collar bones are my favorite feature, how can I not show them off? Another thing I noticed is that women wear sneakers with EVERY outfit which I’ve come to love and be inspired by. Women wear sneakers with slacks, jeans, dresses and so much more; I never considered sneakers fashionable until this point and now, I can’t stop wanting to buy them! I have a pair of Nike Cortez’s waiting for me at home 😉 Overall, being here makes me that much more into fashion and style; not to mention I’m taking a course titled Sociology of Fashion in Milan at my university here.

A social interaction I wish I could bring back to the states with me is aperitivo! Aperitivo is basically like Italians happy hour; you buy a drink (which can range from $8-$12) and then you either get chips, a meat and cheese platter or even a buffet depending on the establishment. Aperitivo is a great way to socialize with your friends after a long week of classes and have a good time.

I’m not going to lie and say that it was an easy transition coming to Milan- like I was warned by the study abroad advisors, I definitely did get frustrated about certain things not being as convenient as they were in America. However, it is safe to say that I finally am in a groove here in Milan, and I am really enjoying my time here.

Window to the World

This evening the sky is shades of orange, and of purple and blue. I can’t help but think about all the time I wish I spent with you. In my mind, collecting the things I want to say. Wait a lil while longer and you’ll hear on the 53rd Sunday.

Since coming to Milan, I’ve grown an attachment to windows and the sky, specifically to the colors the sky makes when the sun is rising and setting. This fixation on color and windows and the sky has followed me to wherever I go.

When I visited Prague, my accommodation had a beautiful window that I would sit next to at night and listen to the chatter out on the streets.

When I visited London, I visited a bakery which was strictly decorated in pastel colors: pinks and blues and greens and purples! It was visually stunning and gave me a sense of joy (not to mention the food was delicious.


When I’m in Milan, my favorite time of day is when the sun is setting; I am making myself dinner while the windows are spread open. I hear the sounds of garlic sautéing, families and children playing, or nothing at all. The sky turns into hues of orange and pink and purple and sometimes blue. That is when I’m happiest. That is when I am at peace.









During this time, I sit and reflect on a lot- the universe; my life; the people I hold dear to my heart; the world and how many people inhabit it, who have their own thoughts, dreams and aspirations; how there is so much this world has to offer. This is something that I will forever cherish and will use to ground me wherever I go. The feeling inside of me when I get to see such a sky, or such a vast amount of color, or an excellent unfurled window, is truly unexplainable. It makes my heart warm and sometimes like my heart is going to burst- that’s how intense it can get. Some people don’t understand why I feel this way, and some people do; the optimal thing I have realized from this is that not everyone needs to understand- if it makes me feel good and content, then I don’t need to prove it to anyone else.

Ciao Milano!

I landed in Milan bright and early on a September morning. It was chilly and sunny, which is the perfect weather for me. It had blown my mind that just 8 hours before, I was in NYC, in my home, with my parents and my pets, all of whom I hold close to my heart. I was excited, yet super nervous to start this journey, especially without my parents, siblings or even best friend to hold my hand through it all- literally.

When I stepped off the plane and into the airport, everything felt normal. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary or different; people in the airport spoke English, and there were other Americans in close proximity considering we had just gotten off of a plane that departed from JFK- my main concern was getting from the airport to my apartment which was an hour away. I made it to a train called the ‘Malpensa Express’ which connects you from the airport to the central train station in Milan. My 5 foot 3, 135 pound self trucked my 80 pounds worth of bags and luggage across towns, transferring from the airport, to the Malpensa Express, to the metro. What an experience! I was so determined and focused on getting from one point to the next that I couldn’t even think about anything else.

However, when I got to my apartment, that is when reality set in. I am here. IN MILAN. WHERE I WILL BE LIVING FOR 3 MONTHS. Is this real life? I couldn’t believe it. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn’t help but cry. I knew that these next couple of months would bring intense change for my life, and although I knew that it was necessary for this change to occur at this point in my life, I wasn’t exactly ready to step out of my comfort zone and accept that it was going to occur starting now.

Arrivederci NYC!

Since my summer began, all that had been on my mind was my countdown until I would be in Milan, Italy. The range of my emotions were quite extreme- I was excited yet nervous, curious yet anxious. I had no idea what I would be flying into, considering the farthest I’ve been from home is to Hawaii- and that still is part of the United States! I’ve always had a desire to travel elsewhere, out of the United States and dive into cultures where I could only daydream what they were like. Yet here I was, about to travel to Europe for the first time, and completely immerse myself in Italian culture.

When choosing where to study abroad, Italy was on the top of my list; the Italian diets consists mainly of carbs and fish (both of which happen to be my faves), the Italian culture is so rich with history, and the university I will be studying at had courses that both sparked my curiosity while fulfilling my major requirements here at New Paltz. Day and night I would think about Italy- what I would eat there, who I would meet there and what I would learn there! Questions started to arise in my mind: Would I come back fluent in Italian? Would living in Milan make me more fashionable and push me to experiment with my style? How much pasta can I eat that is humanly possible? It all felt so surreal that I was going to actually be living there for an extended period of time.

As my summer dwindled to an end, and saying my farewells to family and friends, I couldn’t help but be ecstatic to embark on a new journey that would hopefully be a transformative one. Saying goodbye was definitely hard and tears were shed, but I knew what is to come will surely be amazing.