As I sit overlooking the city of Florence while the sunset’s orange rays fall so delicately onto the river and each and every building, I think to myself, ‘how could I ever leave this place? I look over to my friends and I know they are thinking the same. We took this city. We lived with no regrets, squeezing every single minute out of every day. I’d like to think we left our mark on Florence, but most importantly, it was Florence that changed us.
I sit and wonder how I can sum up the most magical, liberating four months of my life and its somewhat unimaginable. The places I’ve seen, the bonds and friendships made, the incredible things I’ve experienced flash before me and I feel a warmth inside I know no one will ever be able to take away from me. Twenty-two cities in sixteen weeks. Twenty-two beautiful, amazing places, each unique in their own way; places that each showed me a different aspect of life or taught me something new. From this experience, not only will I be able to take away what I have learned about the world around me, but more than that I have learned about myself than I ever expected I would.
The world is bursting with opportunities for us to grab. It’s a place we have to explore, where we have to take chances. In a world many believe to be dark and grim, there is beauty shining through in the most unexpected of places, beauty that we must find and create for ourselves.
Being here was our safe haven. Nothing or no one could touch us because we were in a world of exploration, adventure, fun and bliss; a world which nobody would be able to understand except for us. In this little world of ours, it was taking chances and learning from them that slowly morphed us from whoever we were four months ago to the grown, self-assured people we are now.
Because of this experience, I feel humble. I appreciate life in such a greater way. While being here, I knew my time was precious, so I did everything and anything without ever holding back.
This is when I realize, life is precious.
This is the way I want to be living beyond my days here in Europe. I appreciate life, my home, my family, friends and school so much more strongly now, and that is a better gift from this experience than anything I could have hoped for. When I get on that plane to return home, I’ll look back on this city and know it won’t be our final goodbye. I give my final cheers to Florence, and know it will always be another home in my heart.
SALUTE, Florence. We will miss you.