Meet your other new Peer Advisor

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Hello all! My name is Stevie Fanale and I am another one of your new Peer Advisors in the Office of Study Abroad.  I am a senior FCS student with a concentration in Apparel and Textile Design, a minor in Print and Textile Design Technologies, and a minor in Entrepreneurship… I know, it is a mouthful.

For as long as I can remember I have always loved to travel.  Growing up, I was fortunate enough my parents would take us on family trips to a new place about every summer.  My first vacation out of the country was when I was ten years old to Geneva, Switzerland; Garmisch, Germany; and Venice, Italy.  This is when my love for Europe and the European lifestyle began.  We went back to Germany and Italy after my sophomore year of high school and visited nine different Italian cities in a week and a half.  It was then that I knew I had to return to this beautiful country again one day.

From the moment I committed to Eastern Illinois University, I began familiarizing myself with the Office of Study Abroad website and programs that are offered here.  I then found the program for Florence University of the Arts.  After only visiting the fascinating city for one short day, I longed to go back there.  From the start of my freshman year, I was set on studying abroad in Florence for Fall of my junior year, until finally deciding to do the four week Independent summer study abroad session following my sophomore year of college.  I went into this experience not knowing a single sole on my trip.  As an introvert, this made my loved ones a little nervous, but I was too excited for the experience that lied ahead to back out now.

I arrived in Rome early morning on June 1st, 2014.  The only two EIU students going on my abroad trip were already waiting at the airport with a sign that read “Sta Certonda Fanale.” I now realize “Certonda” does not actually translate to anything, but it is the thought that counts! Instantly, us three strangers became best friends.  The first week of my program was traveling through the Lazio and Tuscany regions with 75 other abroad students and our two FUA professors, Umberto and Tiziana.  Throughout this week I made friends from Tennessee, Florida, China, and Panama.  It is such an eye opening experience to not only live the Italian lifestyle, but to do so alongside people who live much differently than me as well.
Once in Florence I took advantage of the slow paced lifestyle, and revolved my days around pizza, pasta, and gelato.  Spent my weekends with new friends exploring other Italian areas such as Cinque terre, Capri, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast.  The three weeks studying in Florence quickly passed.  It was harder than I ever imagined to say goodbye to a foreign city, which I had made my home, and strangers who had quickly become family.  The last weekend I had the most liberating experience of all, traveling on my own to two Italian cities.  I advise any student studying abroad to have at least one trip for individual travel, although I would emphasize to be sure you are traveling alone to a place you will feel safe.  Traveling alone motivated me to communicate with locals more, venture into uncommon stores and restaurants, and breathe in all that the Italian lifestyle has to offer.

I would like to introduce my favorite quote, by Brenna Smith, which I discovered while abroad: “Travel.  The best way to be lost… and found…at the same time.”  As cliche as it is, I truly did find myself while abroad.  I was forced to find my independence, confidence, and abilities to step out of my comfort zone and communicate with others.  Graduation is quickly approaching and I am applying to jobs all over, with confidence that my experience in a foreign country could assist me to navigating a whole new city on my own again.  I am specifically applying to jobs that list travel as a requirement to continue to fill my passion for travel into my future career.  I am even looking at a few possibilities over seas… one can dream, can’t she &#X1f60a

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