Two Perspectives on Italy

Aug 7, 2018

by Caitlyn Shoaff ’19 and Patrick Femiak ‘19
Edited for content and length

We all dreamt of experiencing “a whole new world”, as kids, after watching Disney’s Aladdin. Luckily for us, Florida Southern gives us an amazing opportunity to pick from dozens of once in a lifetime trips around the world. For us, it was Italy.

Before we start telling you all about our trip, we would like to first say that we know how hard it can be picking a single Junior Journey. While these blogs are a huge help in the decision process, we also know that it is often wished that you had more than one person’s thoughts on the experience. Patrick and I (Caitlyn), have teamed together to give you our different perspectives on the same trip. We hope you enjoy!


Patrick Femiak '19 documenting the trip.
Patrick Femiak '19 documenting the trip.

Ever since the third grade, when I first traveled abroad to visit a country where my ancestors had lived, I dreamt about having the opportunity to do it again. This chance presented itself my sophomore year, when my program director brought up the idea of having a Junior Journey to Italy. As soon as she spoke the words, I started picturing the Renaissance masterpieces in Florence, the famous pizza of Naples, and the thousands of years of history in Rome. That was exactly what we were able to see and so much more.

As the trip approached, I began prepping for the journey of a lifetime. “Did I pack everything? Did I call my banks to let them know I would be traveling? Where is my passport? Maybe I should check one more time to make sure I have what I need…” Thankfully, that stress melts away as soon as you board your flight. As we landed in Italy, our excitement was overflowing. We had finally made it, now our adventure had officially begun.

During our time in Italy, we were to visit three major cities Rome, Florence, and Naples along with three smaller towns Vinci, Pisa, and Pompeii. Throughout our adventures, many of us would discuss what we thought of each city or each museum, even the restaurants we went to. Every day and every city brought something new. We saw some of the most famous churches like the Duomo in Florence to The Coliseum in Rome. No matter what city we were in or what we had planned for the day, I reminded myself to absorb the culture of each region and appreciate the differences each had from our own. 

While the places we went and the things we saw were a lot of fun it was amazing getting to experience it with such a fun group of people! It was remarkable to think we all go to this small college, yet many of us had never met before loading the buses to the airport. Now, we have an incredible bond that will always connect us. Take this opportunity, not only to experience a new country but the entire world outside of what you already know. This includes the people that you never knew could turn into some of your best friends.


Tossing coins in Treve Fountain in the hopes to make it back to Rome.
Tossing coins in Treve Fountain in the hopes to make it back to Rome.

Going on my Junior Journey to Italy has fulfilled one of my travel destinations; however, it has also opened up the door for me to work harder, that way I can travel to more countries. 

Once you get to wherever your trip takes you, either with Junior Journey or in life, do your best to be there in the moment, try something new, talk to different people, and don’t get caught up in sticking to what you are used to. It was my first time out of the country. It was interesting being in a completely different world than what I am use to. However, this didn't hold me back from enjoying Italy. I was ready to see and learn all that I could. 

I expected myself to stay with the friends I knew before going on the trip, however the students I didn't know prior to the trip ending up becoming lifelong friends. This trip for me would have been completely different if I did not meet them.

Florence from the rooftops.
Florence from the rooftops

Overall, Italy is an amazing country. I would highly suggest going either on a Junior Journey trip or on your own, at some point. I know that I will be returning as soon as I can and I also look forward to traveling to other countries soon.


I think I can speak for the both of us when I say we absolutely loved this Junior Journey. We went in thinking it was going to be one thing, and came out completely different. We are blessed to have this opportunity and please, please take advantage of it while you can! Wherever you choose to venture, goditi ogni momento!