Where has the time gone?! I know you will be asking yourself this very question, once you realize that you have less than two weeks left of the semester. It seems like just yesterday that we first arrived in a completely new and different city, culture-shocked and confused, but amazed at everything we were seeing for the very first time. The amazement factor of Florence will always stand true, but the confused-part of the study abroad experience has definitely dwindled and you may just be starting to feel as though you really belong here.
So…your emotions may be all over the place right now, just as they are for me. But, after taking a moment to recollect your thoughts, the satisfaction of your experience will definitely start to surpass any sad feelings you may be having. Yes, it may be difficult to see that some of your friends will be staying in Florence for the following semester, but just remember that everything that you did experience throughout this semester would not have been possible if you didn’t make the first step to apply for the program and hop on that plane to Europe.
To be honest, I was starting to regret the fact that I did not choose to study abroad for the full year. But then I realized, that there is no reason to dread on the past, when you can appreciate all of the great things that did come out of that decision. I got a really great piece of advice from Lisa from Polimoda when she told me, “You can always study, intern or work abroad later. This is just the trial run to get to know yourself as an international person.” These words really stuck with me and made me realize that in the grand scheme of things, we are only 20 years old, and we really do have the rest of our lives to expand upon all of the traveling that we have already done! She is one of many people who I have met who have studied abroad in Florence and then ended up moving here later on. So, you never know where life will take you!
So, now that you are starting to feel a little better about your decision and are looking forward to going back home and being reunited with family and friends, it is a good time to reminisce about how much you have grown throughout your time here.
Speaking from my own personal perspective, there are a few things that I have realized I was able to accomplish from studying abroad (and you may feel the same way):
1. To vaguely sum it up, you are a lot more cultured than you were before you arrived.
- As someone who has lived in the United States for her whole life, it is easy to just see the world with one set of eyes. But, after living in a completely different country for 4 months and traveling to even more countries outside of Italy, your mind will soon be opened up to different types of lifestyles, communication, and culture.
2. You will now be able to plan trips like a pro
- This was really the first time that I have completely planned my own trips, without relying on my family. When you are younger, you tend to just tag along to whatever trips your family may be planning. But now, we are really growing up, and with that comes responsibility for our own endeavors. You will start to realize how just how much thought goes into planning a weekend trip, or even just a simple day trip for that matter. But, once you figure out all of the details, it is such a great feeling to know that you are capable of planning an organized and successful trip!
- Your friends and family may be under the assumption that you will come back to the U.S. speaking fluent Italian. This will most likely not be the case, being that you will still be spending the majority of your time speaking English to your American friends and professors. But, your daily interactions with the locals will make you more comfortable with simple phrases and words for a good foundation. You will definitely return to the U.S. knowing at least a little more Italian than you knew before you came.
4. You will be in foodie-heaven
- Being able to try the traditional, local dishes of a particular city is one of the great things about really being able to experience a new place and all of its offerings. It is a really cool feeling to be able to compare a particular cuisine that you have eaten in the U.S., to the real traditional dishes that are actually being served in that place
5. Your time management skills will really improve!
- Being that you will most likely feel that you are constantly be crunched for time, you will be trying to squeeze 1000 different things into a relatively short period of time. From an outsider’s point of view, you may seem crazy for the amount of activities/trips that you are taking on, but you will appreciate it in the long run! Also, you will realize just how many things that you were able to accomplish in what seems like such a short period of time, in addition to balancing all of your classes and schoolwork.
6. You will make some pretty great friends, who will start to feel like family!
- It can sometimes be difficult to be away from your family and friends from home for a long period of time. But, when you surround yourself with people that you really enjoy being with, you will start to feel like you have created a second family all on your own. Since the program is relatively small, you will find yourself seeing the same familiar faces all of the time, and you will get to know everyone pretty well. In no time, you will find yourself creating friendships that will last for a lifetime, even after you leave Florence!
- When you think about it, it is very impressive that you are now able to say that you lived in Florence for a complete 4 months, or 9 months (if you are a year student). In the time that you have been here, it is likely that you have gotten pretty acquainted by this beautiful city. You will impress yourself by how well you have learned the streets of Florence, and how much better you probably are at navigating around. And…the next time that you come back to visit Florence, you will feel like you are back at home!
A piu tardi, Firenze