Well. This is the end. I stayed up all night tonight in preparation for leaving for the airport. The apartment is spotless, and my bags are packed. I have to pray to the airport gods that they don’t charge me for overweight bags, or I might be wearing 3 pairs of jeans on the plane.
I can’t believe that my time abroad is now about to be a thing of the past. My entire college career, and even in high school, has been leading up to my time studying abroad. It was always something to look forward to, something that was years away, and now it’s over!!
Studying abroad has been such an eye opening experience. I am beyond lucky to have traveled the world and to have seen so much. I got to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, watch a Carnivale parade, walk along the snowy Swiss Alps in Interlaken, visit the Coliseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Vatican in Rome, see Sagrada Familia and sit on the beach in Barcelona, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, go to the opera in Vienna, swim in the bathhouses in Budapest, walk along the rivers of Venice, drive along the coast of Italy, see an Italian soccer match, walk around the Jewish quarters of Prague, jump off cliffs in the Amalfi Coast, stand beside of the Eiffel Tower, hike the cities of Cinquetere, and live for four months in the best city in Europe, Florence. I have been exposed to different parts of the world and have learned to appreciate other cultures and lifestyles.
I honestly couldn’t have picked a better city to study than Florence. This city is perfect. It’s tiny and manageable which makes it to so easy to navigate. The city itself is so historic and beautiful.
Besides the city of Florence itself, the people that I have met here are truly what have made it so special and welcoming. It’s so funny because every time a friend comes to visit and we go and do something, they are shocked by the fact that the owner of a café, or of a leather shop, would know my name. To me, that seems normal at this point. One thing that is so unique about Italy as a whole, is that the people in this country value relationships so much. They take the time to get to know you and genuinely care about you.
Our coffee shop around the corner, Snack Bar Anna, has been so kind to us. Every time I’ve passed by, the owners Stefano and Anna greet me with a wave and yell, “ciao Dolly!” One of the most generous and shocking experiences I had was when I was walking through the leather market one day, and one of the guys who owned a booth came up to me and handed me a purse and told me I could have it. I asked him how much, and he told me “free” and that he wanted me to have it because he had recognized me (since I live in the leather market and walk through it everyday) and knew that I wanted that specific color, since I had my eyes on it, and that it was the last one left. I couldn’t believe it. He literally handed me a free purse. The leather jacket guy that I bought my jackets from, Massimo, knows me by name and would do anything for me if I ever asked him to. It’s the people like this who have shaped my experience in this country.
Today is so bittersweet. I love Florence so much. I can confidently call this city my second home. I have grown up so much here and I have even discovered a newfound appreciation for America. Today I will fly back to New York and not have to worry about language barriers, communicating via dumb little telephones that work 40% of the time, or converting euros to dollars. I have learned to love America so much more than I did before. We have it so easy in the states and our amenities are outrageous compared to the rest of the world. I am so lucky to be from such a great country with so many great opportunities.
So this is the end Florence. Thank you for some of the best memories, some of the absolute most gorgeous views I will ever see, for bringing me together with people who I can confidently call my friends for life, and for appreciating and slowing down my pace of life. I can’t believe it’s finally over. It’s been such an amazing learning experience and it’s incomparable to anything I’ve ever done before.
I love you Italy, arrivederci, I will be back!