BEVERLY, Mass. — Endicott women's soccer rising senior Hannah Merritt (West Hartford, Conn.) recently studied abroad in Florence, Italy at the Florence University of the Arts. Here's what the sport management/communication major had to say about her study abroad trip to Italy.
ECGULLS: Give us an overall description of your trip.
For my study abroad trip, I spent the spring semester in Florence, Italy for about four months at the Florence University of the Arts. I arrived at the end of January for travel week and returned home the second week of May. My roommates and I, which included Kayla Wentworth (Taunton, Mass.), who is also on the women's soccer team, traveled around Europe, in which we explored about 12 countries total by the end.
ECGULLS: Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was incredible, to say the least. I have made memories and friendships that will last me a long time. I went on endless adventures and explored more countries than I could have imagined. I am greatly appreciative of being able to learn in a different country and be submerged into a totally different culture and lifestyle. I experienced things that I never thought I would get to experience, and I believe it really helped broaden my perspective on the world and myself.
ECGULLS: Why would you recommend studying abroad to other students?
I would recommend studying abroad to other students because it is an awesome experience that everyone should have a chance to have. You are submerged into a whole other culture and the lessons, memories, and friendships that are taken away from this experience are priceless. I saw and did things I never thought I would get a chance to experience. I even met many locals who I ended up having the best conversations or time with. I also highly recommend taking trips with travel groups. You meet more people that way and the guides provide the best recommendations for food and places to go.
ECGULLS: What was the biggest lesson you learned?
The biggest lesson I have learned abroad is to go with the flow and become comfortable with the uncomfortable. You can get easily stressed out with going on trips with people and not knowing where exactly you are. By just going with the flow, it makes the overall experience more enjoyable, and even if you get lost, I believe it is the best way to explore a country. I learned to let go and truly embrace every moment I was in. I tried foods I would never have tried before, I jumped off a cliff in Switzerland and paraglided into the sky, and even went ziplining through the Croatian mountains. If someone were to ask me to do those things before going abroad, I would have refused. I got so comfortable with being uncomfortable. I said yes to pretty much anything because I did not know if I would ever get that chance again.
ECGULLS: Favorite experience?
I had too many favorite experiences abroad to narrow down just one. My all-time favorites were being able to ski in the Swiss Alps, as well as paragliding, going to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day, exploring soccer stadiums and going to games, riding bikes through Florence, sunbathing in Santorini, Greece for Easter, experiencing Springfest in Munich, and, lastly, don't even get me started on all the food I consumed throughout my four months in Florence.
ECGULLS: Describe the educational side of the program.
The educational side of my program was very similar to what I experienced at Endicott. Yet, the classes were much longer and only met once a week. The classes I took were mostly electives, so I had the ability to take classes that were outside my major of sport management and were more related to Italian culture. I very much enjoyed being in a different learning environment and gaining information in a different way than at Endicott.
ECGULLS: Were there any funny stories from your trip?
The funniest things would always happen unexpectedly when traveling with my closest friends. I think the funniest story I have is when a bunch of friends and I decided to rent bikes for the day in Florence, and we all had trouble riding the bikes through all the people. At one point, my roommate ended up falling off the bike! Overall, it ended up being the best day in Florence.
The Endicott Experience feature aims to highlight the entirety of the student-athletes' experiential learning journey throughout their academic careers. The student-athlete at Endicott is afforded the same opportunities as the general student population at the College as it relates to internships, study abroad, and postgraduate career pursuits. This philosophy mirrors the mission statement of the College which every student is encouraged to take intellectual risks, pursue scholarly and creative interests, contribute to the community, and explore diverse career paths. Read more Endicott Experience features by navigating the links below.
#ThisIsEndicott: Stephen Basden '17 - ISlide | Alex Barmore '19 - Indianapolis Colts | Lauren Sheehan '18 - Oklahoma City Thunder | Abby Keim '19 - Dartmouth Medical School | Zach DeNike ' 20 - Premier Studios
(Photo Credit - Hannah Merritt)