Greetings and Salutations ! Hey Girl Hey ! Sak Pase ! and last but certainly not least, CIAO ! My name is Ketia Blanc. I am a Mark Kay Orr Study Abroad Scholarship recipient and I am excited to be sharing this new adventure in my college journey of studying abroad in the USF in Florence program. Before I exalt about why I chose Italy as my place to study, I want to share who I am. Born and raised in South Florida , I am a proud first-generation Haitian-American majoring in sociology with a minor in Africana Studies. I originally transferred from FIU down in Miami with my associates degree. Since coming to USF, I have gotten involved on campus; I joined a Haitian women sisterhood organization called Fanm Kreyol, I became a resident assistant last fall semester ( Team Kostor!) and recently I was crowned the Miss International title. Covid-19 stopped some of my other plans but I was not going to let it stop my college experience overall. However, Covid did show how flexible, creative and determined I was and those are some qualities that I am going to need when I become social science researcher as well as a lawyer ( why have one dream when you can have two ). After I graduate this summer, I plan to take a gap year and work as teacher assistant and then continue my education at a law school to obtain my juris doctor degree as well as a masters in social work. Some quick fun facts about me are traveling to Italy will be my first time leaving the country in sixteen years and also the late and great Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers equates to my birthday ( 8 and 24 = August 24) and to double the coolness his birthday is one day before mine.
And now speaking about my study abroad plans to Italy; similar to me, COVID-19 ruined our 2020 “Hot Girl” and “City Boy” summer plans and we spent most of our time isolating from loved ones and away from cherished places. Originally, I was supposed to study abroad to London last June for six weeks and then graduate the following semester but, it all became just a planned dream. The trip like all the other summer stud abroad programs, USF in London was cancelled and given an anticipated restart summer 2021. Last December, unfortunately the trip was cancelled again,. I was now back at square one figuring out a place that I would want to travel. One of my Fanm Kreyol sisters began telling me about her study abroad experience once she found out I was planning to do it;. She raved about Italy and how scenic Florence was, which in effect stimulated my brain to research Italy. I was first captured when I saw how convenient it was to get gelato and I was then reminded of the Disney movie, Lizzie Mcguire movie and how her adventures in Italy started at the Trevi fountain. I imagined myself roaming through the streets of Florence in flowy summer dresses and my melanin just being kissed by the sun each moment I stepped foot outside. From painting myself a vivid picture and my Fanm Kreyol sister ongoing guide on the deliciousness of organic Italian food, Italy became not a top contender but the choice for where I was going to travel to for study abroad. And as one who is molding herself to be a global citizen, learning a new language outside my comfort zone became an added reason to study in Italy.
As I prepare to embark on this once in a lifetime experience, I want to first acknowledge that, I never once saw myself studying abroad. I can clearly remember walking head and body strictly forward past the study abroad tabling events as a freshmen at FIU. Coming from my social environment, studying abroad was seen as an exclusive treat for students who were financially stable enough to be luxurious while in college. For people who shared the same ethnic/racial identity as me, study abroad was an opportunity to see a different version of racism and both reasons were not worth it at all. And it make sense as to why not many Black college students study abroad while in college, but I had to think about my life after college. Being that we are accustomed to a fast pace lifestyle, once college is over it is straight into the work field and then life just comes in takes us away from being able to learn more about what’s beyond our environment. I am going to study abroad in Italy as if it is the last place that I will travel to and while I earn some college credits, I will be learning about the beauty in the cultural differences that people hold but is so essential to keeping the world go round. So stayed tune and as we say in Italy Arrivederci!