I love to get out of my comfort zone. I have always wanted to see Europe and I thought the best way to understand people in general is immerse yourself in a language, culture, and place that is unfamiliar, and learn from it to get the best experience. I chose Florence, Italy for its profound beauty and history to get a better cultural experience.
Why did you choose to intern abroad?
Interning abroad? That is the coolest thing when you need to have an internship to graduate! I think you need to take risks in life; I already needed an internship to graduate, so I wanted an even bigger challenge.
What was your favorite part Florence?
My favorite part of Florence has been the people. It is such a complex and enriching city and the people have been so inviting. This city will forever have a special place in my heart.
What made your experience abroad unique?
I got to intern at a student tourism company which made my experience unique. Not only was I interning in Italy, but I got to go Greece for my internship to gather marketing material in addition to being able to connect with students who are studying abroad.
This has been such a rewarding experience and my internship has been very beneficial to my professional development.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
They have been fantastic. Any time we needed a suggestion or anything, they were a call or email away. Our advisor would check in every week and make sure we were doing the correct tasks and ask us how our experience was going. It was very special because they were there, but let us figure most of the stuff out on our own, like finding the supermarket or pharmacy,so we gained independence.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
To be completely honest, things work out the way they are supposed to. My experience shaped me into the budding professional that I am today and changed me as a person. There is nothing I would have differently because I love where I am after this experience.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
I took Italian class for four weeks before my internship began. During this time, I would get up, get an espresso at the local cafe, go to Italian class, go to lunch with friends I made (from all over the world might I add!), and then come home to study and then out to explore.
When I began my internship, I would get up and be in the office around 10:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m., stay until 5:00 p.m. or so, and then go explore. Take FULL advantage of exploring with friends and coworkers and the time you have here.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
My favorite thing to do was getting lost. Literally go down a road and find your way back home after going down a road you had never been down before. I found the best food, coffee, gelato, and sites by wandering around and then familiarizing myself with how the roads connected.
Also, make sure to NEVER turn down an invite! You will get the best experience by going out with other people and experiencing everything Florence has to offer.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best it?
The flat was so nice. We each had our own room, a kitchen area, two bathrooms, and a good view of the city. I liked the location the best since it was a ten minute walk to the train station and plenty of stores.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
You're going to never want to leave! At first I was "culture-shocked" but now the city will forever be in my heart and I wish I could stay there forever. Luckily, the memories will always be with me.
What was the hardest part doing an internship abroad?
The hardest part an internship abroad was the time difference back home, actually. I found the normal everyday challenges of adapting to a new country and a new environment to be very exciting and the best adventure.
What surprised you most Florence?
The thing that surprised me the most Florence was how historical and beautiful the city was. Every night, the streets are cleaned and the locals take care of the town with the utmost care, which helps to provide tourists and locals alike a more amazing city experience.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
Many people in Florence speak English, but the four weeks of Italian was really beneficial. By the end of the four weeks, I could use basic Italian, in addition to being able to order food completely at a restaurant.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before doing an internship abroad in Italy?
The one thing I wished I knew before doing an internship abroad in Italy was how easy it is to travel to other places! Much likes some states are easy to get to in the U.S., there are so many countries nearby Italy, waiting to be explored with friends on the weekend! I wish I knew ahead of time how easy it was to travel because I would have made travel plans more in advance; however, the spontaneous trips were exciting, too!
If you could intern abroad again, where would you go?
If I could intern abroad again, I would intern in Milan, Italy. Not only is it comparable to NYC, but it is also full of life and excitement, surrounded by historical beauty. Clearly I cannot stay away from my new favorite country.
What do you feel the biggest benefit of doing an internship abroad is?
The biggest benefit of interning abroad is how the experience changes your life. Not only is my professional life going to benefit since you adapt to challenges and become more culturally aware, but you also will benefit in your personal life which will also prepare you for a future career.
When you see the world in a new way, in a place you've never been, you see how different people interact and their way of life and way of doing things. Not only has this made me more open-minded, but I also feel like I will understand all people in the workplace and be more patient.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Italy?
Packing tips for interns heading to Italy would be to pack lightly, but pack with a mission. Neutral colors are a good staple to mix and match. I also PROMISE you that you're going to do a little (or a lot) of shopping while in Italy, and you might need to throw away or donate some of your clothes when packing for your return home. I packed a few outfits that I didn't mind donating at the end so that I had more room in my suitcase for souvenirs and other things.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
I feel more aware of the career choice that I am interested in. Working for a tourism company in the marketing department has been eye-opening and rewarding. I also view the world in a different way. We are all people, no matter how different the culture is. It is those differences that give the world real beauty.
Would you recommend your program/provider to others? Why?
For sure! Having an internship abroad is going to give you more preparedness to the adversities and challenges in the workplace.
Victoria Messinger is a Communications major and a senior in college. She is from North East, Maryland, and goes to Salisbury University. Victoria’s internship was with Bus2Alps student travel as their Marketing Intern in Florence, Italy.