The city of Florence is currently decked out for Christmas even though both “Natale” and the New Year have passed. The storeowners on each street join together to determine how they will decorate each year and it creates a unique feel throughout the city as you walk from one street to the other enjoying the change in lights, all of them white and sparkling as they light up the gorgeous city of Florence. After a lot of
judging, my favorite street is the “bike light street,” Via Romano (see picture). On December 8th, amid studying, I went to the tree lighting by the Duomo and joined in to the countdown as they lit up a tree Rock Center style right in front of the Duomo. To put it simply, it was fun, beautiful, and filled with tradition.
At Polimoda, we ended classes on December 15th and finishing the semester almost came as a surprise. These past four months were the fastest of my life and I still cannot believe I am halfway done with my time here. I have been to over 12 major cities and five European countries. Nine months seemed so incredibly long, but suddenly I’m past the halfway point and completely baffled that I’ve made it this far and my time left is so short.
Unlike at FIT in New York where a sense of community can be hard to find in the Big Apple, I feel that I am friends (and not just acquaintances) with more than half the program here in Florence. I have more FIT friends abroad than I ever did in the city and for the first time I have a sense of community at school with Florence acting as our campus. All the FIT girls got together and enjoyed the last few days before the fall semester girls left. I had to say goodbye to some of my closest friends as they headed back to the states for next semester. Though they were happy to return home, they also were sad to leave such an amazing city and experience behind them.
Since the semester ended, my dad and brother came to visit me in Florence and than we traveled to Rome together for the New Year. It was unbelievable to see them and show them my life for the last four months. As we FaceTimed my family on Christmas, my grandma offered to fly me home for a few days if I found a decently priced flight. Though I had my mind set on staying in Florence until May, I definitely underestimated my homesickness. Once the offer was put in the air, I simply had to look into it and found a round-trip flight home for under 600 dollars (yes, dollars, not euros… This is not a joke). I am currently blogging from a five-hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany as I wait for a flight to bring me to the Empire State for 5 and a half days. I am ecstatic to arrive in New York for a few days, see my family, friends, and boyfriend, and then return to Florence, the city I currently call home, in less than a week.
I’ve been spending my break in Florence hanging out with the other full year FIT girls who are killing time over break, dying the tips of my hair a reddish pink (boredom), taking yoga (which is totally new to me and may become an addiction), and buying presents for everyone at home. As I purchased the gifts for those who couldn’t experience this with me I realized once again how grateful I have been for this opportunity and the opportunity that presents itself in the next semester. The people who got me not only to Florence, but also to this point in my life are the people who have stuck around through the ups and downs. I’m slightly embarrassed to write such a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason and I can’t not say it. Grateful is an understatement.
I ended my first semester abroad surrounded by amazing friends who created amazing memories. My bank account is lower than I can ever remember and I miss people more than I thought I would, yet I never doubt how worth it this is. I ended the semester with a great GPA and a better understanding of not only my major, but more importantly, myself. I secured an internship for next semester with The Florentine, a paper produced in English in Florence. In their next issue they are publishing an article I wrote and it will be distributed to the biggest reading base I have ever had (Eeekk!!). My family came to visit and see the sights and take in the beauty of this incredible Renaissance city that I’ve been lucky enough to call home. Now, I am fortunate enough to get a few blissful and exhausting – because lets be real, jetlag will beat me up first in New York and then when I return to Florence – days at home. So for now… arrivederci Firenze and and hello New York!