We chatted with AIFS alum, Haley Fay, a student at Towson University who spent a semester studying abroad in Florence, Italy back in Spring 2016. We asked her to give feedback on her experience overseas, and here’s what she had to say.
How has your study abroad experience impacted your educational goals and career?
Studying abroad has not only changed my perspective on the world, but it also gave me once in a lifetime experiences that I will always cherish. I am currently a senior, finishing up my last semester and I can honestly say that studying abroad has helped me choose my career path. I took classes that were not only engaging but also culturally immersive. While taking a photography class abroad, I can now say that photography is one of my deepest passions and I hope to one day use that passion in my career.
How has your study abroad experience impacted other areas of your life?
Studying abroad has helped me become the person I am today. The way I think about life has completely changed since coming back to America. Just the experience of living in another culture has changed the way I currently live. For example, when living in Italy I was not always able to use my cell phone. I now appreciate that inability of technology and practice not using my phone too much especially when I am around my friends or family.
Are you still in contact with other students or anyone you met during your time abroad?
I am! Even though most of them live miles and miles away, the amazing Facebook has allowed me to stay in touch with all of them.
Are there any activities or traditions from your time abroad that you have continued back in the US?
Photography. I was always interested in it but taking a course when I was abroad has really instilled a passion in me that I would have never had without going abroad. For instance, I am currently looking into taking some classes when I graduate to start my potential career in this field.
What are your top destinations for future travel?
The one place I was not able to go to was Ireland. My family is from there so I have always wanted to connect with my roots.
Any advice for students who are considering studying abroad?
Take advantage of every opportunity you get. Whether that is through AIFS or even the opportunity to travel every weekend independently. Just do it, because traveling to one destination alone from the US is going to be way more expensive than a weekend trip to Paris.
Any advice for recently returned study abroad students?
Try not to make that a main topic of conversation. I know my family and friends got sick of me saying “when I was abroad…” It’s important to share your experience, of course, but at the end of the day your experience abroad was one of a kind and intangible so I think keeping some things to yourself is just as amazing.
Anything else you want to add?
Save, save, save. The more money you have going abroad, the better every experience will be, trust me.
Interested in having the experience of a lifetime like Haley? Check out our study and internship opportunities in Florence, Italy!