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Off-Campus Study

Notes from Abroad: Kailey in Italy

Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience.  This week’s feature is from Kailey Gonzalez ’18, a Business major and a double minor in Entrepreneurship and Studio Art currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

Kailey Gonzalez

Florence, Italy

Fall 2016


Hi! My name is Kailey Gonzalez. I am a 3rd year at Lake Forest College. I’m a first gen, and this is my first trip to Europe! I am a business major and a double minor in entrepreneurship and studio art. I am studying abroad in Florence, Italy this fall and taking Italian culture courses focused on art and art history. I also volunteer with the volunteer program at my international university as a church tour guide in the heart of Florence.


New Place, New mindset- Adapting to a New Culture

Expectations can be high when traveling to places that is only known by descriptions from books and movies. I personally, knew little about the culture in Europe aside from stereotypes. The truth is, there is nothing that can be said or done to fully prepare you for this experience. The majority of the customs and the way of life itself is going to be different from what we know back home. Specifically, in Florence, and in Italy as a whole, “slow living” is the way of life. Italians take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life like long dinners or “una passeggiata” -a stroll. A strong sense of pride for their culture, arts, and lifestyle make the abroad experience rich with their culture, but leaves little room for yours. The most important thing to remember is that although everything around you is different, you are the same. Yes, I am changing and learning each day, but holding anchor to the things that are important to me keep me from getting lost in this new place. With this mentality, I maximize every moment of every experience. Needless to say, this experiencing is nourishing on so many levels, not only with the mass amounts of pasta, but also for the way I view the world and the people in it. It has and will continue to be an amazing experience. I cannot stress enough my gratitude for those who have the this opportunity accessible to me with support financial and emotionally. Thank you Lake Forest College and all other donors for this opportunity.