Venice is like a floating historical masterpiece. Perhaps I am biased as I interned in Hong Kong this summer and was surrounded by skyscrapers. Though it was an amazing experience for growth and professional development, it was very overwhelming being in such a large city with hustling crowds of people hurrying to get to work. Venice is almost the opposite of Hong Kong. Though packed with tourists, it’s quiet in the morning and nights and it is filled with historic churches, museums, and buildings instead of skyscrapers.

When I walk to school in the morning, which takes me over an hour, I have to pinch myself thinking that I live here. My roommates and I, all from A&M, live right in the middle of the island while most students stay in Mestre (20 minutes bus ride from the main island). We were able to get an incredible deal on it and pay even less than those who live on mainland.

Ca’ Foscari University is a prestigious university, however, it is quite chaotic when figuring out which classes you want to take. One of them I showed up to and the professor asked how many people in the class understood no Italian whatsoever. When about 7/30 people raised their hands she said “okay great since there are more Italians then I will just teach it in that language”. I was panicked as it was one of the few English taught courses here, along with the other exchange students in the room, and the professor ended up getting in trouble for it. I even have one non attending classes which means I don’t show up to the classes (because they conflict with my other class times) and just show up to take the final after reading the textbook. It’s so interesting and bizarre how classes work in Europe, as they are trying to each students to do things themselves by offering these course options.

I have had the chance to travel on the weekends which has been an amazing experience. I get out of classes a day earlier than my roommates so I usually end up traveling alone the first few days or the entire weekend. Solo traveling can be daunting and one time I was placed in a hostel with one other guy which was creepy. However, most of the times I end up meeting the most incredible people, usually other female solo backpackers.

It had been the most rewarding and confidence-building experience of all of this- traveling solo. One girl from New Zealand that I met at a hostel last week in Tuscany told me of some of her adventures. She has been backpacking solo around the world and is only 24. One time when she was backpacking Vietnam, her and a bunch of strangers that she had only recently met got lost in the mountains. They had to survive off of the land for a few days and one of the people in their group broke their arms, having to rush to a dingy Vietnam hospital. Meeting new people and hearing about their unbelievable adventures has been the highlight of this undertaking and has inspired me to be fearless in the pursuit of my dreams. This is impactful especially in this time of my life as I am applying for jobs at the moment and graduating in May.

Venice is truly beautiful and though I’ve had to deal with the stress of many tourists here and having to apply for jobs back in the USA as a senior in college, I wouldn’t trade any of it. It is truly magical and the sunrises here are the most marvelous thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to learn more while here and continue falling in love with this city.

Katie Davis