Carnegie Mellon University


Lindsey Matesic, DC`17

Study Abroad

Florence, Italy - Spring 2016


Global Studies


Class of 2017

Lindsey Matesic is a Global Studies major who spent the spring of her junior year studying abroad in Florence, Italy.  Before going to Italy, Lindsey had completed advanced Italian language and culture classes and used her time abroad to perfect her language skills and be immersed within Italian culture.

Study Abroad Perspective

When I first arrived to Italy, I saw my study abroad experience at the Lorenzo de’ Medici Italian International Institute in Florence, Italy as a challenge I needed to conquer.  I was going to ace my classes, adapt to the new culture, and travel the world.  And while I have had an amazing time checking things off my bucket list, such as taking an archaeology class, hiking in the Alps, and drinking an espresso “al bar,” I found at some point that it was less about accomplishing all these things than about experiencing the unexpected things that weren’t on my list. 

My classroom learning has been more than I could have ever imagined, from frequent field trips to museums, churches, and historical buildings to understand Florentine life past and present, to working on the conservation of real Etruscan artifacts.  However, my transition from taking study abroad as a challenge into more of an experience happened outside the classroom.  I have been given much opportunity to travel while in Europe, and first it was about seeing as many cities as I could.  My first month here was filled with long bus and train rides and a different city every weekend.  I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but after about a month of constant motion, I slowed down a little and took time to explore all that Firenze has to offer.  For me, I will never stop getting pleasantly lost in Firenze.  Each side street always entices me further until I have wandered for hours, discovering new cafes and breathtaking views from the hills outside the city.  This city truly lives out the cliché “it isn’t about the destination, but the journey.”  It is the days I have spent wandering without any real purposes in mind that I have discovered beautiful quiet towns, local Italians eager to share their way of life, and even a thing or about myself and my desire to try new things. 

To fully immerse myself in the Florentine culture, I have been actively involved with LdM’s volunteering opportunities.  Each week I visit an elementary school to help an English teacher of Italian kindergarten students.  Working with the students has been so much fun and it never ceases to amaze me how much English they know at such a young age.  One of my most rewarding experiences so far has been one that I agreed to on a whim.  I received an email asking for volunteers to give tours of one of the LdM buildings in Italian to local residents.  This was early on in my time in Italy and I was not sure my Italian was good enough to give tours to locals, but I decided to challenge myself and sign up.  It was definitely a challenge.  While I had rehearsed the information for the tour itself, I often found myself struggling to answer any additional questions the people asked.  It was frustrating to not be able to communicate fully what I wanted to say, but I have found time and again that the people of Florence are willing to help you communicate.  The people on the tours were patient when I struggled to find the right words and seemed to really appreciate my effort, even when I knew my sentences were very basic.  It was so rewarding to see people nodding along as I went through the tour and realizing that I was being understood, even if my Italian was not the best. 

Being a little over half way done with my time abroad, all I can say is that it is more than I had ever thought it would be.  Taking time to wander, experience the little things, and pursue new opportunities has taught me to appreciate this beautiful country in ways I never would have achieved if I focused solely on checking things off a bucket list.