Kevin R. A. Walsh is a student at Bridgewater State University. He studied abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy the fall semester of 2014.
Waking up in a foreign city like Florence is incomparable.
Right from the start, I was energized with the idea that there was an entire city waiting to be explored. My doubts of this art epicenter was immediately proven wrong the moment I stepped out of my apartment and aimlessly started to walk. The sights, the sounds, everything screamed authenticity. It was almost as if every bit of the Italian culture was yelling at me to snap out of it and realize what I have been missing my whole life.
As I walked down the cobblestone streets, my nose was greeted with the fresh smell of newly baked pastries, the Italian gossip being echoed out into the streets filled my ears, and the sound of artists creating their work with a humming of machinery and banging of tools heightened my senses. This was a completely different world from which I’ve become accustomed to.
I was in the heart of the Medici’s playground. Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo; all of these masters of their craft walked the very streets I currently was.
Having the chance to sit and reflect while gazing at the incredible artwork in Piazza Del Signoria reassured me that I made the right decision in choosing Florence as my host city.
When I arrived in Florence, my head was spinning. The lovely ladies of ISA welcomed us with open arms and we immediately felt comfortable in our foreign surroundings.
Some of the best moments from my four months in Italy were because of Lucia, Perla, Alessia and Sabrina. I think I speak for the rest of my group when I say thank you for making every excursion and activity exceed our expectations, as well as taking the time to answer our questions, assist us in emergencies, and share with us your culture.
I can’t say enough about the ISA staff in Florence, and I know you will continue to show students how amazing this city is in your own unique way!
After my classes, I found myself walking around Florence almost every single day. It was during this time that I developed my passion for photography. Every corner, every person had a story to tell and I felt the need to document it.
Before going abroad, I had a general sense of what I wanted to do after college. I knew I wanted to travel for a purpose. Through humanitarian efforts, I could see the world and at the same time give back. It is with the help of travel photography I plan to develop this career.
For what seemed like an intimidating city, Rome proved to be one of the best highlights of my study abroad. The balance between free time and our sightseeing was key to enjoying the 3 days we had in this huge city.
After a long, yet interesting tour of the Vatican Museum, we had the choice of either heading back to the hotel with our group, or staying in St. Peter’s Square with little, to no hope of seeing the Pope later that night.
Not only did I have the chance to witness and take part in an incredible candlelight vigil for St. Francis, I was also able to hear Pope Francis speak in front of thousands of people. This had proven to be one of those indescribable moments that shows how a quick decision can turn into an unforgettable memory, which had certainly been the theme of my semester abroad.
The ease of travelling while in Europe was fantastic. Despite a few hiccups such as missed flights and language barriers, I would come back from each weekend adventure with a deep sense of satisfaction. It has invoked a sense of wanderlust in me that I never knew existed.
My experience would have been incomplete without those of which I consider some great friends. Each person had their own story, their own perspective on life that I hadn’t heard before. We all had such a sense of adventure and need to explore that whenever we ran into any issues the general consensus was,
“Hey, at least we’re lost in an incredible place.”
It was no coincidence that the most creative people I met were in Italy. Contributing to projects such as the ISA magazine was a great chance to test my new love of photography and it allowed me to collaborate and explore avenues I never thought I would venture down.
Within these four months, I had accomplished more than I ever expected. Including ISA excursions, I was able to explore 30 + towns and cities throughout Europe. Each trip resulted in memories with friends that I will never forget.
From the sandy beaches of Barcelona, to the waterways of Venice, the art laden streets of Florence and the beer halls of Oktoberfest, this trip was a life changing adventure in which I will treasure for the rest of my life. Thank you to all of those at ISA for providing me with this opportunity in such a professional and unforgettable way!
To see more of Kevin’s photography, check out:
The world awaits… discover it.