Sitting here writing this post doesn’t feel real, as our last few days in Florence are quickly coming to an end. As cliché as it sounds, it literally feels like yesterday that Julia and I arrived at JFK airport, anxious, excited, not knowing what to expect, and met our roommates, Tori, Anna and Rachel, for the first time. Four months later, these girls have become my closest friends and Florence has become our home. We’ve done it all; we took pictures at the John Lennon Wall in Prague, ate macaroons as we strolled down Champs-Élysées in Paris, visited Park Güell in Barcelona, rode a gondola in Venice, chowed down on pancakes in Amsterdam, took a dip in the baths of Budapest, partied in Ibiza, made a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, drank the world’s best beer in Munich and fell absolutely in love with Florence.
On Saturday, we will step off our last flight of abroad, this time, to New York. We are not jetting off to another incredible city for a few days, or arriving home in Florence after a weekend of exploring, but returning to reality. These past four months have been unlike anything I have and will ever again experience in my life. Never again will I be 21, eating, drinking, shopping and site seeing my way through Europe with my friends. Yet, my favorite part of this experience has been the days spent getting lost on the streets of Florence, discovering new restaurants, sampling too much gelato, watching the sun set over the Arno, and taking in everything this city has to offer.
We’ve planned out our last days to consist of our favorite sites, our favorite meals, too many goodbyes and very little sleep. At the beginning of the semester, I assumed that, although I would love abroad, I would be ready to return to America when the time came, but this couldn’t be any less true. It’s hard to believe that our time in Florence is finally coming to an end, but we know the city will always been here, full of memories, to return to.
For those planning to study abroad in the future, I’d love to leave you with some advice and lessons learned, but finding out first hand is all the fun. Before coming to Florence, I was told that study abroad changes you as a person, but I was skeptical. After two and a half years at Wisconsin, I felt like I had already grown up from the person I was when I graduated high school. Yet, after four months in Florence, I see even more of a change in myself. I have learned to embrace other cultures, slow down and enjoy each moment, and appreciate a nice Chianti wine.
So Florence, thank you for an incredible four months and for an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you for introducing me to the lovely ladies of Rondinelli 10, I wouldn’t have chosen to share this experience with a greater group of girls. Every pound gained and euro spent was completely worth it and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Until next time Florence…