Returning to the Sunshine State

The fact that I had missed the sunshine after plenty rainy days wasn’t the only thing that I realized upon my return from Italy. Even though my study abroad program was short and hectic, I was able to experience the Italian lifestyle first hand and become more aware of where my personal beliefs stand compared to those of individuals from different backgrounds. Not surprisingly, Italian culture has a lot in common with my Albanian background in the sense that it is more family-oriented and it`s characterized by strong bonds with the community, including neighbors, local merchants, or primary-care doctors. That, together with the fact that Italians tend not to move a lot and live in the same region all their lives helped me understand their perspective on mental illness treatment, which was the main goal of this study abroad program. Their strong bonds with the community can explain why all their treatment programs heavily rely on the cooperation from the families and relatives and why they have strictly steered away from isolated mental hospitals. In addition to exploring different mental illness treatments, I had the opportunity to explore the rich culture of Florence, the remains of what used to be the center of the Medieval European trade center, and the magnificent art and architecture of the Renaissance. I came to realize that reading about architectural achievements or important monuments is a lot different from standing in front of them and fully appreciating the artistic minds who designed them. My experience in Italy has inspired me to travel more, explore more, get to know people from different cultures, try their traditional food, get to know about their painters, sculptors, poets, and more importantly try to understand what inspires them and what drives their life forward. On a final note, I wish that in my future travels I will be lucky enough to be accompanied by such an amazing and diverse group of people with inspiring stories and great determination to achieve their goals.

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