When I Knew I Was In Italy

I had been looking forward to studying abroad since I applied back in the fall. My mother has always shown me photos of her studying abroad when she was in college and my grandparents had been sending me suggestions on what to do in Italy for months.

I constantly daydreamed about flying into Florence, getting my passport stamped, gazing out of my taxi cab at the unique architecture and strolling down the cobblestone roads with gelato in my hand. During my flight from Amsterdam to Florence the jet lag caught up with me and I promptly fell asleep. When we landed, I woke up and was swiftly ushered out of the craft to baggage claim. It wasn’t the entrance I was expecting.

From then on, everything moved fast. I didn’t need to go through customs so I just hopped into a taxi. The car darted in and out of lanes, my body permanently bracing for impact as I was unaccustomed to Italian driving. I finally reached my apartment where I was greeted by my PA, my new roommates and an ornate fresco. We got our first Italian meal together and quickly hit the hay.

The next few days were just as much of a blur. They were filled with orientation, blisters from walking all day on cobblestones, pizza, wine and the most unbelievable views. That’s what this trip honestly felt like: unreal. My brain couldn’t process that I was actually abroad and I instead felt like I was in some huge exclusively Italian part of Epcot.

Finally, the first day of classes concludes. My roommates are exhausted and retire to our apartment, but I am hungry and venture off alone to a sandwich shop. I put in my AirPods and play music softly so I can still hear the hustle and bustle of the city. For the first time, everything slows down and seems less alien. The people aren’t in a rush and seem to take in the old buildings. I realize that their ancestors probably walked the same paths. Each store seems to be a mom and pop shop and the streets are adorned with Christian imagery; the values of the people here apparent. And then it hit me as I was surrounded by the culture; I was finally here.

 

Courtesy: Savannah Tindall

 

Will I probably understand every little bit of Italian culture in the month I have here? Not by a long shot. But in those little moments, the most casual and unplanned moments, I start to understand it more.