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Kate Kearse

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Economics and Global Studies with a Statistics and Analytics minor
Program: UNC in Firenze
Location: Florence, Italy
Term: Spring 2020


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I love traveling and learning about other cultures. I selected UNC in Firenze because that program offered a wide variety of classes and clubs/field trips that interested me, I also really wanted to go to Florence.


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I can overcome anything. The 6 weeks that I was in Italy was full of challenges, but it was all worth it. I was so much stronger than I thought I could be, and now I know that whatever life throws at me I can get through it.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from my program was actually on my last day. My roommates and I went to Piazzale Michelangelo, a beautiful overlook of Florence, ate some chocolate, drank champagne and watched the sunset. Because we were going home early as a result of COVID-19 we talked about how unfair it was to be leaving so soon, but also about all of the amazing things we had done. My roommates were definitely one of my favorite parts of my study abroad experience.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
The best advice I can give is remind yourself that you're stronger than you think, and everything will work out. It is also really important to have a good support system because everyone will likely be going through the same thing as you, and if you can do it together rather than alone you will be much better off.


How do you identify?
Scholarship Recipient, Rural County Resident


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
I grew up in a small town in western North Carolina where I was incredibly sheltered. Fortunately I got the opportunity to travel with my family some, so I knew what to expect in terms of traveling to Italy in the airport. When I got to Italy, I could not understand anyone, there were people everywhere, everything looked much different than my home town and it scared me. I immediately got homesick and worried that I had made a mistake studying abroad. I did end up loving being in the city, but every time we traveled to the rural areas outside of Florence a wave of comfort washed over me because there were mountains and greenery that reminded me of home.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
The best advice I can give to someone from a rural area studying abroad is to have an open mind, and, if possible, find an area that reminds you of home and go there when you are feeling overwhelmed and homesick.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
When I was facing challenges I always turned to my roommates, they were a great support system and talked me through most everything I struggled with.