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Aydin Bandukwala

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Biostatistics/Chemistry
Program: UNC Math in Firenze
Location: Florence, Italy
Term: Summer 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I honestly chose to study abroad on a whim. As a pre-med student, I had always wanted to study abroad, but I had initially assumed that I wouldn’t have the space in my academic schedule to spend a summer or semester abroad. While browsing the study abroad catalog over winter break, I realized that UNC Math in Firenze would fulfill both MATH 381 and a gen-ed credit. I submitted my application the day before the due date and was thrilled to be accepted into the program!


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned how resilient I could be in a completely foreign place. On the plane ride home, I took some time to reflect on the life I’d made for myself in Italy over the summer. I arrived to Florence knowing no one and unaware of what to expect over the next few weeks. Eventually, I figured out how to get around without staring at Google Maps on my phone, hosted pasta dinners at my apartment, and shared some laughs with the locals. Despite the language barriers, I came to understand that small acts of kindness are a universal language. I left a piece of myself in Florence and hope to return soon!


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from the summer was hiking in Cinque Terre on a weekend trip with some of my friends from the program. We spent the day hiking along trails through vineyards that overlooked the sea and enjoying the good views and warm weather. At the end of the day, we found a good cliff jumping spot into the ocean which was very welcome after the long trek.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Spend some time getting lost! I’m tend to think of myself as a Type-A person who likes to plan everything out, but I found that some of my most memorable days were the ones which I had no plans and let myself wander around. During some of my wandering around Florence, I stumbled upon some amazing restaurants and incredible views of the city that I returned to multiple times during the summer. You’ll also have the chance to get off the beaten path and feel much more ingrained in the culture of the town.


How do you identify?
Student of color