Sam Waelde graduated from Central Michigan University and studied abroad in the Summer of 2011 in Florence, Italy.
If you would have walked up to me a year ago and told me that one day I would spend an entire summer living in Italy, I would have thought “No way, not me!” Then on May 16, 2011, I woke up to my first full day in Florence, Italy. In Mt. Pleasant, you hear trains in the background. In Florence, you hear Vespas. Florence is A-MAZ-ING. Just walking around the twisty, cobblestone alleys of the medieval-looking streets in downtown Florence, you feel like you’ve taken a time machine back into the 1500s. You have this overwhelming sense of a place just craaaving to be discovered. That feeling right there is the MAGIC of studying abroad! Five other CMU students went to Florence with me. We didn’t know each other before we left. However, once we arrived in Italy, we felt like family instantly! We were discovering Italy together and sharing our excitement at the same time, which made for a very exciting, high-energy experience that none of us will ever forget. My apartment was literally a stone’s throw from several of the school buildings, a small market, a pizza shop, the plaza, the gym, an ATM, the library, the river, a computer lab, and–believe it or not–Leonardo Da Vinci’s grave! I was placed into an apartment with two CMU girls, a girl who plays soccer for Indiana State and even a girl from Switzerland! We did everything together including weekend trips to visit nearby countries. We did one weekend in Barcelona, Spain, a long weekend in Croatia and several trips to Rome, Pisa, Venice and the Italian beaches! My first class was right next to The Duomo–an enormous, grand cathedral built in the 1200s. You really just cannot grasp the size of the Duomo until you’re walking down the street and it’s on the horizon–I wish someone snapped a picture of my face the first time I set eyes on it. My professors all spoke English very well–one was an ex-pro soccer player even! He was hands down hilariousand took us on super exclusive field trips. I kept a daily blog so that my family and friends could share my experience with me. Here’s one excerpt from my blog: