By Andrea Arredondo

I love to travel. To see different sights, hear different languages, taste different foods, experience new cultures. This is a quality that my father passed on to me at a very young age and has stayed with me since.

I was always curious to see what was on the other side of the mountain, or to find a new dish that I could recreate at home. That was me, always curious. As I became older, I began to find more and more opportunities to go abroad. There was only one problem: money. It can be expensive to travel to China or the Galapagos when you are still in high school and can’t work extensively. It can also be inconvenient to take a few weeks off because of school during the academic year and sport practices during the summer. As such, the idea of traveling to a foreign country in college always appealed to me. Traveling to a foreign country and getting class credit? Sign me up!

When I found out that I would be going to UCLA and that UCLA had study abroad programs, I knew that I had to make one of my priorities to spend a quarter or even year in a new location. So I did. After my freshman year, I studied abroad in Paris during the summer to fulfill my language requirements. There, I fell in love with croissants and French yogurt (it’s different, I swear). Abroad I met people from different universities and different countries. As cliche as it sounds, each day genuinely was a new adventure. With each commute home after class I discovered new restaurants and parks where I could read. On the weekends, I would travel to different towns in France. And when I was lucky, I would savor mouth-watering chocolate desserts that I had never seen before.

While I enjoyed that program immensely, around the start of my junior year, I felt like there was so much more I wish I had seen. Should I have visited other countries, I wondered. What if I did not spent enough time in Paris? These questions emerged at different points after studying abroad, but so did the question of going back. So once again, I walked back to Murphy Hall to see what programs were being offered.

As an English major, it’s easy to think that there won’t be that many classes I could take abroad in countries that don’t speak English. What I quickly found out is that that is NOT TRUE! In fact, there are programs specially created for people in my situation. When I was looking at different programs, I realized that I personally had to experience a different country than France. I loved it and I still love it very much, but the thought of living somewhere different felt right to me. Having taken some Italian classes, being an art lover, and interested in American literature, I decided that the “American Writers and Artists Abroad” program in Florence was a perfect fit for me.

Was it? Read more to find out (:

Andrea Arredondo studied abroad in Florence in Summer 2019.