I'm Elizabeth Cameron and I am a rising senior on the Babson Volleyball team from El Dorado Hills, California. During the spring of my junior year, I was lucky enough to spend the semester and study abroad in Florence, Italy, and it was truly an incredible experience. Though I missed volleyball and my team, the culture, food, new friends and going abroad for only the second time of my life allowed me to learn and grow in new ways.
One of my favorite parts about being abroad was living in a homestay with an Italian mom, dad, brother and sister, and my teammate Kristin Carosotto. We were so lucky to come home to such a welcoming family. Living with an Italian family allowed the two of us to genuinely experience the Italian culture; from the language, to the food, to the lifestyle. At first, the language barrier was a big challenge given our host mom didn't know any English, but as the semester went on and our Italian and charades got better, we adapted quickly. Some nights our host dad and sister would even help us with our Italian homework and presentations!
Another unique aspect of going abroad that I loved was the classes I was able to take. To start, I took Italian for the first time and surprised myself by picking it up faster than I expected. Given my class was only four students, I really had the opportunity to participate and build relationships with the three other students and my professor. I also took a Mediterranean Food & Culture class, which was actually my hardest class. I know, from the outside perspective it simply sounded like we went on a bunch of food and wine tastings; however, on the inside we were overloaded with information and learned about everything from the microbiome, to food movements, to food and religion, and of course wine production and classification. These were all classes that were so different from the typical Babson business course offered, making my experience more unique.
Lastly, I was grateful enough to travel a lot throughout the semester. Not only did I visit many towns throughout Italy, but I got to travel to 10 different countries! As I mentioned before, this was only my second time leaving the US, so it was interesting observing the people and experiencing the culture differences in each country. From the history in Belin to skiing the Alps in Switzerland to cliff jumping off the coast of Italy, every place was so different but all amazing.
At the end of the journey, I may have eaten too much pasta but I realized how special the experience was. Yes, I can always go back and travel around Italy, but I think there is nothing like studying in a foreign city while learning a completely new language, living and having a home-cooked dinner every night with an Italian family for four months, making new friends that I'm still in touch with, and traveling the world. That cannot be replicated. Now that my adventure has come to a close, I am ready to be back at Babson with my amazing team and am looking forward to a great season. Let's go Babo!