I can’t believe it has already been 4 months since I first arrived. When I left, I was filled with so many nervous and anxious feelings but I was beyond excited to see what this semester had in store for me. When I first stepped onto the airplane, I couldn’t believe that I was actually flying 4,500 miles away. I had dreamed of doing this for so many years but it never actually felt real. I landed in Florence and I had so many thoughts running through my head. I couldn’t help but think about all of the amazing things that I was about to experience. I had a lot of nerves but I knew that this would be the best 4 months of my life. The first time that I walked past the Duomo, I was blown away by its beauty. At that moment, I could not believe that I was actually going to live in Italy for an entire semester. It felt like a dream come true.
I spent my first week exploring all what Florence had to offer and taking in the new culture. I got lost many, many times but it helped me experience the city a bit more. The first few days, I got gelato almost everyday (or even twice) and still continued to do so the whole semester. The first Saturday of the semester, I took my first day trip to Cinque Terre. It was weird leaving Florence for the first time but I was also very excited to explore the rest of Europe.
After the first week, classes started and Florence started feeling less like a vacation and more like home. I started to become more comfortable with walking down the cobblestone streets and attempting to learn a little bit of Italian. I had already learned so much about the new culture and language that was surrounding me. I began to take weekend trips to other cities around Europe. I fell in love with every place I went to but none were quite like Florence. I would come back on Sunday nights and it felt like I was just coming back home after a weekend away.
The few weekends that I spent in Florence were some of my favorite because I really got to explore the city. I would pretend to be a tourist and climb the many stairs up to the top of the Duomo or to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo, taking in the beautiful scenery. One of my favorite memories is adventuring at 2 in the morning trying to find the secret bakery. Finally, we found it and got warm chocolate croissants for only 1 euro.
There is no better feeling than crossing something off of your bucket list. This semester, I crossed so many things off my bucket list, things I would have never imagined doing at 20 years old. I’ve taken away so many things from this semester. I embraced many challenges and learned to view the world in a different perspective. I learned that stepping out of my comfort zone can be extremely rewarding because I learned so much about myself and the world around me. Traveling gives you the chance to find yourself and come back a different person. My experiences this semester have become apart of who I am and I will cherish these memories forever.
I will miss walking past the Duomo everyday and being amazed by the beauty of the city. I will miss getting pizza and gelato everyday. I will miss watching the sunset behind the Ponte Vecchio. Most importantly, I’ll miss the memories and adventures that I made. I will miss so many things about my favorite city but I am beyond thankful to have had this amazing opportunity. Thank you, Florence for giving me the chance to adventure, make memories that will last a lifetime, and feeling like my home. Florence, you will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m so thankful that I got the opportunity to travel to 13 different cities around Italy and 7 different countries around Europe. Studying abroad is definitely the best decision I’ve ever made and I am so grateful to have lived in such a beautiful city for the past 4 months.
“We travel because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something inside our minds has changed, and that changes everything.”
Grazie mille e arrivederci, Firenze!