Profile: Skye Spinner '25
Major/minor: Undeclared/Business Minor
Reason you chose this program: When I found out that there were study abroad programs for Midyears, I knew I had to take part. Italy is my dream destination and has always been a place I wanted to explore — thus Florence was a no-brainer.
Favorite classes: Food and Culture in Italy with my professor Simon was the most extraordinary class I have ever taken. Not only is Simon a gem, but the course was educational in how and why Italian food and culture is what it is, but so much fun and hands-on. We had at least one food tasting a week, accompanied by many "field trips" that were academically stimulating and delicious!
How did you incorporate your Brandeis major/areas of study into your abroad experience? As someone who wanted to pursue a business major at Brandeis, I was excited to see business/economics classes offered. However, in retrospect, I have my entire career at Brandeis to focus on that, so I recommend taking classes that are out of your comfort zone and that you won't be able to take anywhere else.
Housing situation: I was in an apartment with six girls who were all Brandeis Midyears (with the exception of one girl taking a gap year). Our apartment was quite lavish and big for Italy! I chose to be roommates with my now-best friend Eva, and there were a total of four bedrooms and bathrooms. Additionally, there was a kitchen and living room overlooking the street. It was the perfect apartment for the experience, and I found this much more desirable than a dorm setting.
What were some parts of your identity that you thought about while considering study abroad that other students may want to talk to you about? I suffer from extreme anxiety, and I was very scared about how my body was going to act while I was abroad. I will not lie; I did experience anxiety attacks while I was away, thinking about how far away from home I was, and how I was on my own, amongst other things. However, once I calmed down, I was so happy being where I was and what I was doing. This experience made me realize that my anxiety can't get in the way of what I desire, and knowing I was able to go through those three months away showed me I am so much stronger than I could imagine, and I can conquer anything.
Best memory: There is no single memory that outweighs another, as the entire three months is my favorite memory. However, to get to and from the building classes were in, I had to cross Ponte alle Grazie (which is the bridge). On one side of this bridge is the infamous Ponte Vecchio, and on the other is a beautiful mountain. I fantasize about watching the sunset on this bridge every day, and it was the highlight of my day.
Greatest challenge: I have been quite fortunate to travel throughout the United States; however, this was my first experience out of the country — and the first time being away from home for more than a week. I was quite scared about how I was going to manage to live independently, never mind in a foreign country. But it was an experience I couldn't pass up, and I'm glad I went through with it. There are many more English speakers than one would think, thus the language barrier is not a big deal. I still spoke to my family every day, but I was too busy exploring, eating and shopping my way through Italy to worry about missing home.
Did you apply for any scholarships? If so, which ones, and how did they impact your time abroad? I was able to use one scholarship (from my hometown) I acquired for studying abroad. I also applied for the program's financial aid and was awarded some. However, the financial aspect was one of the greatest challenges.
What you know now that you didn't know before: As I shared previously, I now know that I am stronger than I imagined and that I am perfectly fine and prosperous being independent. I also have a new dream for my future that I could have never imagined before, and that is moving back to the incredible country I was able to briefly enjoy.
Fact about Italy that you think people would be surprised to learn: Italy is a fascinating country, and its culture is filled with many unexpected features. The most upsetting is the lack of garlic bread... That is actually an American creation, and I had to endure three months without it.
“I was quite scared about how I was going to manage to live independently, never mind in a foreign country. But it was an experience I couldn't pass up, and I'm glad I went through with it.”
Skye Spinner '25