Learning La Dolce Vita: Alexia Beghi
When Alexia Beghi set out to spend nearly a year abroad in Florence, she was prepared to enjoy the romance, beauty, culture and food that she knew the Italian city had to offer.
What she wasn’t expecting, however, was the extent to which studying abroad would change her as a person.
“I had more life-changing experiences in one year than I could have ever imagined,” explained Alexia, the grand prize winner of the spring 2011 University Language Services scholarship photo contest. “Living in Europe matured me as I became more perceptive and appreciative of other cultures and ways of life.”
Although Alexia, whose father is French, already had plenty of European traveling under her belt by the time she set off for her stint abroad, the independence she gained while living in Florence from August 2009 to May 2010 was a new experience. Traveling solo, making new friends and learning a new language were all experiences the 22-year-old says she benefited from.
An architecture major, Alexia appreciated the chance to see some of the architectural and artistic works she had studied in the classroom in-person while in Italy. Her winning photo is of Florence’s iconic Santa Croce Church, whose beautifully detailed façade caught Alexia’s eye.
It’s more than architectural detail that makes Santa Croce significant to the people of Florence and honorary Florentines like Alexia, however.
“Santa Croce is the place Florentines gather,” Alexia explains in her contest entry. “On any night of the week, hundreds of students – Italian, American, Spanish, French – can be seen gathering, drinking wine, sketching, and playing cards on its steps.”
Currently a senior at California Polytechnic State University, Alexia expects to graduate this year. In fact, she’s already making post-graduation plans, as she’s in the process of interviewing for jobs at several architecture firms.
Alexia may be keen to get her career underway but, thanks to her time in Florence, she realizes the importance of keeping her eyes open beyond the working world.
“In the US, we put such pressure on ourselves to do, and we forget to live and enjoy,” she explained. “European culture really teaches you to enjoy life to the fullest.”