Kaitlyn Carlson

Major: Early Childhood Education (HDFS)
Class: Senior

Overall Experience

The experience I had in Italy was absolutely amazing. Being able to live in the beautiful city of Florence and immerse myself in their culture was an experience I will never forget. From getting to travel to many different places, to meeting some of my now best friends - studying abroad helped me to learn and grow in so many ways and I am so thankful that I was able to have this opportunity.

Learning experience

The main thing that I learned from this experience is to slow down and enjoy life and all the things that come with it. The culture in Italy, and Europe as a whole is very slow paced. People walk slow, meals take longer, and people take the time to stop and meet others. In the United States, life seems to move so fast. There always seems to be so many things to get done all at once. This can make it hard to stop and enjoy the little things going on around us. It was nice to be able to take things slow and soak up every moment. This is something that I want to try to continue while I am back home. The cultures are different and there are so many things to do, but I want to remember to appreciate everything life has to offer and to reflect on things happening around me.

Memorable experience

My most memorable experience was going on a wine tour in Tuscany because I connected with one of the workers at the winery and got to hear his story and form a friendship. It was so cool to be able to talk to him about his experiences in Italy and to learn things about the culture from him. He taught us so much during our time there, that we went back and did the same wine tour to see him again and learn more! The connections built during my time in Italy was one of my favorite things about this experience.

What did you not expect?

Something that I didn't expect is how difficult traveling can be. During travel, there always seems to be problems that arise, and I didn't expect it to be as challenging as it was. This helped me to be resilient and a problem solver. I had to make decisions by myself to ensure I would make it safely to each destination when problems did come up. This will translate into my personal and professional life because it is important to be able to make big decisions and keep going when times get tough.

What advice would you give?

My advice is to do everything you can! Money can be super stressful, but these experiences are some that you can never get back. Try new things and meet new people. Don't be afraid to immerse yourself in the culture - that's when the best memories are made! Soak up every moment, because time really does get away from you and you don't want to regret not doing something.

How has this experience impacted your life?

This experience helped to grow me as a person in so many ways. Personally, I have grown so much through my study abroad experience. I am much more independent and self-sufficient than I ever thought I could be. I learned what I am capable of through traveling to a new country alone and adapting to their way of life. I am also much more confident in myself and my decision making than ever before. While abroad, I had to make decisions and take care of myself, which will translate into how I make personal and professional decisions in the future. Professionally, this experience opened up so many doors that I would never have if I didn’t decide to study abroad. The connections that I made with people all over the United States, as well as in Italy, are something that can help me professionally when it comes to networking and searching for a job after graduation. Going off this, being in a new culture helped me to be able to communicate and connect with people that I never even thought I would meet. This will help me in the real world to get along with people who may be different from me, which is crucial in professional settings.

How did you learn about this experience?

I have known about studying abroad programs since I first started at Iowa State. I became more interested when I had multiple friends decide to go abroad. After seeing their experiences, I knew that it was something I wanted to try for myself!

International Connections