Back to SummaryKaitlin Asrow - Student Advisor Profile
MINOR: Art History
I have loved traveling since I was young so I knew coming into Stanford that I wanted to study abroad. I had taken a couple of different languages when I was a freshman but hadn’t settled on where I wanted to spend my junior year. Studying in Europe stuck out to me because it provided access to so many different cultures and experiences in such a small geographic area and furthermore Italy was right in the middle of everything. Italy was also the perfect combination of my interest in international affairs with my love of art history. I
felt that the Florence program offered me all the academic opportunities that I wanted and was the ideal location to see Europe from. I expected to take Stanford classes and to travel with my friends, but I never expected to gain a new family in the people I met and lived with, and to leave the country with such a deep respect and understanding for the culture.
I wanted to get a feel of Italy on my own before joining up with Stanford in the fall so I applied for an internship with a startup company in Milan for the summer before my junior year. I lived in an apartment outside of the city with two Italians from Bologna who also worked in my company. I worked in an office with all Italians and I got the chance to be completely submerged in the culture. I went to my roommates’ houses in the mountains around Bologna some weekends, and I went into Milan and toured art galleries on others. I found my favorite restaurant in the city and became an expert of the metro system.
After my summer, I was really excited to meet the students I would be studying abroad with and my host family. My host mom was so welcoming when I first met her, she treated my roommate and I like daughters. Florence in the fall was beautiful and the culture was so different from Milan that it was like being in another country altogether. During fall quarter, I was able to travel around Europe with my friends like I had planned. Backpacking in trains, planes, and buses was really fun and I got the opportunity to go to Barcelona and Amsterdam, as well as all over Italy. But I soon discovered that the best part of traveling was coming back to Florence to find a warm bed and home-cooked Italian meal. I also played with a local volleyball team twice a week and took advantage of the language partner program to meet local Italians.
I loved Italy so much after being in Italy for the summer and fall that I couldn’t bear to leave. I decided to extend my stay and study abroad winter as well. Winter was a completely different but an equally rewarding experience. Winter
provided more amazing academic experiences because my advisor was the faculty in residence and I was able to take advantage of the internship program that students are eligible for if they stay a second quarter. In the daily routine of life the novelty of Florence started wearing away and it began to just feel like home. My roommate and I got even closer to our host mom, and we knew the people in our neighborhood by name. I joined a gym and spent nights having apertivo and meeting Italians around the city. Also, it was really relaxing to know the routine of classes and traveling already. I got the opportunity to go to Dublin, London, Berlin and France, as well as more small towns around Italy. During winter quarter Italy became my home and I felt as if I was taking a break from Stanford and simply living and studying in Florence.
In my classes both during fall and winter I was able to see things first hand that I was studying about. For example I took a class in the winter on human rights and the aftermath of genocide and the class was able to visit a small Italian village whose inhabitants were massacred during World War II and hear first
hand the account of the loan survivor of the tragedy. I was also able to take advantage of the art classes both quarters. This was one of the most memorable experiences for me as an art history student because I was no longer seeing images on slides, but having lectures in front of some of the greatest works of art in the world. Classes on Stanford’s main campus are amazing, but they can rarely give you the face-to-face experiences that the Florence Program is able to.
I would recommend the Florence program to anyone considering studying abroad. Living, working, and studying in Italy was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and it gave me the opportunity to not only expand my horizons academically but to really become actively involved in another culture.