The University of Iowa

Experience Study Abroad: A shortened yet transformative experience in Europe

June 29th, 2020

By PJ Hennelly, Honors at University of Iowa

On January 27th, I left the comfort of my home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and headed to Florence, Italy, to embark on a journey of a lifetime. Although the program was supposed to run from January 28th to May 16th, unfortunately, due to COVID-19, our trip was cut short. I had been studying at Lorenzo De Medici Institute for a quick 5 weeks, when I had to leave with ten of my best friends from the University of Iowa to come back to the United States. We left Italy on the 5th of March. However, being there for just over a month, I have gained knowledge that will help my professional and personal career goals. I was also fortunate to experience the Italian, Irish, British, and Swiss cultures.

Besides being immersed in the Florentine culture, my favorite places to visit were Dublin and Interlaken. The Swiss Alps were beautiful, and being surrounded by them made me realize how lucky I was to be in Europe. Going skiing in the Swiss Alps was an eye-opening experience. I used to think I was a good skier, but then I saw the six-year-olds who were flying past me effortlessly. It is a part of their lifestyle and can be compared to hockey for Canadians. The Swiss kids are in the mountains at a young age, just like Canadians are on the ice at a young age.