Before I delve into the nitty gritty details about preparing for this trip, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Elizabeth (but most people just call me Liz), I'm 19, and I'm a rising senior majoring in Psychology. I'm also a queer, black, femme-presenting person. Truthfully, when I was applying for colleges, studying abroad was not something I thought I'd be able to do because of how expensive it surely had to be. Considering the fact that I rely solely on Financial Aid for expenses, I was concerned about what my aid would be able to cover for studying abroad. I won't lie, figuring out the process of coordinating financial aid and study abroad was a bit complicated. It was a lot of waiting and double checking with both financial aid and study abroad advisors; there were a lot of tears and a lot of stress, but it's all been worth it so far. This week I've been preparing which of my things to pack up to go with me for the next six weeks, and what things to leave behind. I've had to get charging adapters, configure plans with my bank (so they don't think someone stole my information for six weeks) and my phone company, and I had to get a passport (kind of need that in order to leave the country)! I also recently bought a suitcase for the first time (I don't mean that it would be my first time ever using or having a suitcase, but the first time I've ever bought one myself), and that's started building this bubble of excitement in my stomach. I've never left the US before, and I've only flown on a plane one other time; that was only a 3 hour flight from Florida to New York, and is completely minor in comparison to the nearly 12 hour flight I'll be getting on this Saturday. I'm both nervous and excited because on one hand, I'm getting to go to Italy (!!!), and on the other I'm worried about my luggage getting lost (not really, but I'm exaggerating). I am anxious about navigating an international airport on my own though. Luckily, I coordinated my flight with some other people who are also studying in Italy, so I'm certain at least one of them will be familiar with what to do. And if that's not the case, at least I won't be alone! In the six weeks that I will be in Florence, I will be taking two psychology courses: Drugs and Behavior, and Forensic Psychology. I'm also very excited to be taking these classes, and I know there's going to be a lot of work cut out for me for them. This blog, however, will be dedicated to sharing my experience in Italy as a queer, black, femme-presenting person. I have my own preconceptions about how people like me could be treated due to the more conservative environment that Italy, especially Florence, has. I have hopes that I will be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed, especially being surrounded by good people like the other students I've met who are going abroad with me.
Thank you for coming along this journey with me, and I'll see you on the other side (in the eastern hemisphere)!