With about a week left until my departure to Florence, I am excited to see how my semester abroad in Italy will change the way I think about the world. I am hoping to gain some insights into Italian culture that I would never have come into contact with in the United States. I want to engage with Italian culture in a way I never could have in an American classroom. Whether it be through food, art, music, or even just basic communication with locals, I hope that living in Italy will allow me to be able to look at my American values objectively, giving me the distance necessary to examine not only the differences, but also the similarities between the two. In preparation, besides my three semesters of Italian at Colby, I have also been using the Duolingo app to try and gain as much language proficiency as I can before I leave. While I’m sure living in Italy will allow me to learn and improve my use of the language, I’d like to have a strong base to build on upon arrival. One aspect of my semester abroad that I am particularly excited about is the city. Florence is a city with lots of history. I am excited to be able to walk the streets and see this history in person, through its buildings and art installations. One aspect that I am nervous about is the language barrier. While I have tried to become more proficient in Italian in anticipation of my departure, learning and doing are two different things. It is one thing to understand and speak a language in the controlled environment of a classroom or application, where the subject of conversation is often controlled and grouped by unit. What happens when I don’t have a textbook in front of me, or a professor to slow down and repeat vocabulary words? In order to deal with these challenges, I will try to immerse myself in the Italian language as soon and as much as possible. I think the best way to learn a language is to speak it, so if I can force myself to try and communicate in Italian, as opposed to looking for English speakers or Google translate, I think this will make me a much better speaker of Italian. Ultimately, I think this will be more beneficial in my quest to experience and learn about Italian culture and language, allowing me to take full advantage of my opportunity to study abroad.