I highly recommend getting lost, and I mean really lost, in a foreign country.
It is only then that one truly appreciates the comforts and conveniences of home.
The opportunity to study abroad came to me through the architecture program in my fourth year at Kansas State University. I was accepted into the program located in Orvieto, Italy. I had high expectations, but nothing could have prepared me for the adventure of a lifetime that awaited just across the pond.
I lived and went to school in Orvieto. I was responsible for all of the same things I had been in the United States: cooking meals, doing laundry, and completing studio assignments. Except now, the food at the grocery store was labeled in Italian, I had no drying machine, and my studio supplies consisted of a pocket knife and some old cereal boxes. Needless to say, it quickly became necessary to learn to communicate. In doing so, I was immersed into Italian culture before I knew it: I made friends, frequented the local market, and tried my hand at pairing wine with food. I got pretty good at that last one. I now consider Orvieto my home away from home, and it will hold a special place in my heart forever.
Outside of Orvieto, I traveled to Rome, Florence, Venice, and beyond. I found myself surrounded by ancient history everywhere I turned. The sheer amount of traveling I did while abroad is mind-numbing, but it is by far one of the things I am most proud of about my experience. It takes a lot of courage (and several missed trains) to travel in a foreign country and I know I am braver and more ambitious because of it.
Living, working, and playing in Italy has not only reaped benefits personally, but also professionally. The transition back to interning at Hollis + Miller this summer was easy: everyone spoke English and I already knew how to use the microwave. On a more serious note, though, I find myself to be confident in taking on bigger tasks, and I am so excited to start my career after graduation. After all, what could be scarier than trying to find your way back to your hostel in a foreign city… at night… with nothing but a rain-drenched Italian map and a broken umbrella?
Kelsey is our summer intern of two years and will be leaving us in the fall to finish her final year at school.