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Meet Andrew Otelsberg (he/him/his)

Program and Location:

Summer, Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute; Florence, Italy


Electrical Engineering with minors in Mathematics and Art and Design

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad after attending the World Scout Jamboree, an event for Boy Scouts which brings young people from over 150 different countries together to celebrate different cultures from around the world. Even though this event took place in the USA, I was blown away by the uniqueness of every person that I met. Everyone came from different locations, practiced different customs, and had different stories. And yet, they all shared a common interest with me, and I discovered that despite coming from all corners of the Earth, we weren’t that different at all. It was the most eye opening experience of my life, and from that moment forward, I knew that I wanted to study abroad when I got to college.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned a lot about myself during my time abroad. I now know that when it comes to juggling my educational responsibilities, I am able to work hard and play hard at the same time. I had no problems getting my coursework completed on time and also getting an authentic experience in Florence and Italy as a whole. I might even argue that my coursework added to my experience, due to the way it was delivered and its content. During my trip I also discovered many new foods that I enjoyed. In fact, I don’t think I had a single meal that I didn’t like, and that’s coming from a picky eater! More than anything, though, I learned that world travel will become a priority once I begin my professional life. I’d absolutely love it if I got to travel for my job in the future, but at the very least, vacations abroad are a definite must.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

Some of my favorite parts of my program were the weekend excursions we would take to other cities in Italy. While the summer study abroad program was based out of Florence, every weekend the group got to travel to a new city or series of cities. Once we arrived at these new places, our schedule was already made up for us, so we didn’t have to spend the time or money determining what to do and how to do it; the costs and the itinerary were all built into the program, along with some free time to explore on our own. In addition to Florence, our group travelled to see Venice, Pisa, Lucca, Capri, Naples, and Pompeii, among other places. The convenience of having these weekends planned out for us was invaluable, and it definitely allowed me to relax and enjoy the experience that much more.

What was your experience with navigating COVID-19 abroad?

COVID-19 definitely was still relevant during my study abroad trip. Some of the places we visited during our time abroad requested that masks be worn indoors at all times. Public transport also had a mask policy. Additionally, the airline flights to and from Italy had COVID regulations in place. None of these procedures hindered my experience abroad by any means. I’m just so glad that I was able to make it abroad in the first place, given everything that has happened since the pandemic began.

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?

Study abroad helped me prepare for my future by indirectly improving my ability to adapt and problem solve. Learning in a new environment can be tricky sometimes, and having to navigate a language barrier was something I wasn’t sure I was equipped to handle at first. However, over time, the confidence I had in myself allowed me to be resilient through these challenges, and I know that this confidence will carry over once I get a job after college.

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

My advice for future students is to take full advantage of your time abroad and maximize every moment. The opportunity to study abroad and live in another country for an extended period of time is very unique, and there is so much in the outside world to see. So when you are abroad, make the most of it and explore as much as you can. I don’t know when or if I will have the opportunity to visit my host country again, although I would certainly like to. With that being said, I can confidently say that I utilized my time abroad to the fullest and I saw and did everything I wanted to and more. It may seem overwhelming, and you might feel worn out at times, but when you reflect on your experience later, you’ll be grateful for the experiences, the photos, and the memories you made and can cherish forever.

Would you do it again?

I would absolutely study abroad again!