I have lived in the Caribbean all of my life, bouncing between the Islands of St. Maarten and Puerto Rico.   Interacting with Hispanic, French and Dutch citizens has allowed me to develop a culturally diverse identity.  Moving to Winter Park proved to be a challenging experience.   Campus life proved to be intellectually exciting, but socially, I felt that I needed more stimulation.  My mother and grandmother have repeatedly narrated stories to me of how studies abroad changed their lives forever.  I decided to take the plunge.

I selected Italy, as I felt that it was a country that I knew very little of.  I love Italian cuisine!  Nevertheless, my knowledge of Italian history, Italian culture, the country’s landscapes and its society was non-existent.  I wanted to dive into the unknown.  The prospect of learning a fourth language, intrigued me.  Hopefully it will become an asset in my future business ventures.

International travel in the past, always revolved around countries that were related to my French heritage (mainland France, the French Antilles and the Ivory Coast).   I wanted to make a concentrated effort to get out of my comfort zone.  My identity has been biased by my French inheritance, and the small Island life that I know.  The exposure to historic monuments in my environment has been limited.

The thought of visiting areas like the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum, fills me with the hope of discovering a new part of me.   Perhaps city living, will make me reach out to others more easily.  Maybe the sounds of a new language, will allow me to experience different feelings, and to develop deeper sense aesthetic awareness.  I imagine how walking endlessly the narrow cobblestone streets of Rome, might get my ideas flowing; and perhaps enlighten me to make better life choices after graduation.

What will it be like to share an apartment with another 5 roommates?  How will we get a long?  Will we create strong bonds, and travel Europe together?  Or will we each try to discover Rome and the rest of Italy independently?   I believe that whatever happens, I am ready for this encounter.  I realize that at times I tend to be uncompromising in my train of thought.   Traveling is often a humbling experience.  I imagine many will judge me for being a privileged American, from a world ranked college.  I wish to break down the barriers of prejudice.  By making my best effort to learn another language quickly, I hope to show empathy, and respect for absolute strangers.   I look forward to self-transformation!

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