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Antoinette Uzamere semester with Maryland-in-Florence (ARCH)

Program: Maryland-in-Florence (Italy) (ARCH)
Term: Spring 2023
Major: Architecture

Studying abroad helped give me a new perspective on the world, and how much fluidity there can be in each others differences

With the ease of travel between different countries, sometimes it would be a toss up as to what language the person in front of you speaks. The ease of access to countries with different cultures allowed me to grow my respect for people who are different than me and also see how it compares to other cultures by experiencing it. With this new knowledge, I believe it will help me understand and relate to people who are different than me in an easier way in the future work place. Since I was able to develop the observational skills to understand cultures, those same skills may help me understand people's patterns and figure out the best way to work with them.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad

I am a half white and half African woman. In this whole program there was only a handful of other black people, and I do not recall one of them coming from UMD. My advice is to stay mentally strong and remain comfortable in your body. Be open minded to the people around you, but also make sure you support yourself by calling people from home who get you and not being afraid to do somethings on your own (with caution) if that's what you need to keep your peace and have the experiences you want.

I would travel nearly every weekend

A lot of the places I would go would require a train, meaning I would walk thirty minutes to and from the train station weekly. On my way back from the train station--being in Florence-- I would always pass Palazzo Vecchio. At first, I would be amazed at the site of it, but as each week went by when I passed it, it became a marker for the home stretch of my walk. At that point, I realized that Florence isn't just a "cool" place to be; it's also home for people, including myself for the time being. With that in mind, I think it's important to treat the city with the same respect as a home rather than a place that you are a tourist in.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad

Studying abroad is worth the trouble if you can afford it. It's an opportunity to grow your soft skills such as observation, problem solving, and critical thinking. It's an opportunity to see other forms of living because Europe is different than America from the urban development to the fashion. The process may seem overwhelming but take it one day at a time.

As soon as I arrived in my apartment in Florence, I wanted to go home

I questioned all the reasons as to why I thought this would be a good idea. I wanted to go home because I realized that I went there completely alone as a person of color in a country where the main thing TikTok said for black people was that it was racist. But I just needed to get out and explore the city. Keeping busy was the best thing I could do to avoid missing home terribly. As I got to know the city, I began to feel fondly of the city and stopped second guessing my decisions. I also realized that I didn't experience racism like I thought I would. It is important to try to experience something for yourself before you accept your preconceived notions and all the things people say about it.

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