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Life Abroad

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Blog post by Jen McPherson about studying abroad and doing an internship. (October 4, 2018)

My name is Jen and I arrived in Florence five weeks ago to begin my study abroad journey. I am a junior at Fairfield University and I am currently enrolled at FUA. Along with my classes, I decided to do a marketing internship at We Like Tuscany. As you can see by this website, the company has a wide variety of tours that you can choose from. Between the Vespa, fiat and bike tours, as well as the food tours, along with plenty of others, there is something for everyone.

At first, I was hesitant to do an internship. I would already have to adjust to living in Florence and attending classes at a new school. I was not sure if adjusting to the work environment too would be overwhelming. I also knew no Italian coming to Florence. Even though I was afraid, it was a good kind of fear. I knew that i would be thankful at the end of my time studying abroad that I was also able to experience working in Florence.

During my first days in this new city, I was busy navigating all of the main roads and side streets. I was quickly learning where the Duomo was and how to get to Santa Croce. Walking around the city and near the Ponte Vecchio, it was clear this beautiful city had a rich history. Luckily, the weather has been nearly perfect. It has only rained a few days out of the many weeks I have been here. I enjoyed trying a new restaurant each night. The food here is incredible. I am definitely going to miss it when I go home.

On my first day at my internship at We Like Tuscany, I was introduced to the staff in both of the offices. It was comforting that many spoke English. My colleagues are very friendly and energetic. It is clear that they enjoy their jobs and love We Like Tuscany. It is quite interesting to see what the work life in Italy is like compared to that of the United States. I am so used to being in a rather pressure filled working environment back home. Here, the working environment seems more upbeat and most do not seem all that stressed, which is refreshing.

In these first weeks of being an intern, I have already learned a lot and had an opportunity to join a bike tour. I created a video for the bike tour. I have also made a contact list with the names of travel agents in the United States who specialize in Italian travel. In addition, I have been in charge of posting on the We Like Tuscany Facebook page. I post about events going on in the city and the great tours that are offered. I was unaware of how many events are constantly happening in Florence and the surrounding areas.

My favorite task thus far was going on the Taste of Tuscany Half Day Bike Tour. The other intern and I participated in the tour, along with four other clients. One couple was from the States and the other couple was from London. I loved talking with them and learning about where they had traveled. It was also comforting to talk with a couple from home. Once we biked out of the center of the city, we biked the hills of Tuscany, which were quite hard at times since I had not ridden a bike in a while.

As we rode through the hills of Tuscany, the landscape view was absolutely breathtaking. With breaks here and there, we were able to take pictures of the views. At one point, we could see the entire city of Florence. When we reached the top, we went to a villa where we had some lovely appetizers and a taste of both red and white wine. It was so nice having a bit of a break and being able to talk with the tour group together. I loved that the group was so small. We were able to have one big conversation altogether. Of course, afterward, we had to bike back. On the way down, we stopped at the Piazzale Michelangelo. The view was amazing as well. I was able to see the city of Florence like never before.

Overall, my experience in Florence thus far has been incredible. I am so grateful to be both a student and an intern. I will get to experience the city of Florence in a much richer way than those who are only taking classes. The location of my internship has already led me to explore parts of the city that I most likely otherwise would not have. It is wild to think I only have eight weeks left. These next weeks in Florence are going to fly by. I look forward to what’s to come.

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