This post is from student blogger Sandra Collopy from Saint Michaels College, English and Media Studies Major studying in Florence, Italy
The days leading up to studying abroad in Florence dragged on forever, as I struggled to cram four and a half months into one suitcase and tried to calm my nerves. I knew going into this experience that it would be a hard transition leaving everything behind and starting over in another country with new friends, new experiences, and essentially new everything. As I took off from Logan International Airport in Boston and waved goodbye to the little suburbs I call home, I was scared to death but felt oddly hopeful for what was to come. There was no turning back as the plane ascended high into the pink and orange hued clouds.
Now, writing this from Florence after my first two weeks or so here, I am still adjusting to the culture shock and way of living. It’s not worse or better than home, it’s just different. I am in awe by the sights that I’ve run into around every corner in this city, a feeling I’ve heard will dwindle over time as the newness of Italy starts to wear off. But I’m not sure that I fully believe that yet, because every time I walk by the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore I still get chills from head to toe.
I just can’t wrap my head around its beauty and the history behind it. It’s hard to believe that this city is even real, and just walking around the streets of Florence makes me feel like I’m living in a dream. Which may sound like a cliché study abroad saying but having never been to Europe before, I can’t help but get completely caught up in the architecture and beauty Florence embodies. Let’s just say that I can admit to tripping on the cobblestones, and almost getting hit by buses and Vespa’s a couple of times. It’s hard to put into words how lucky I feel to be here, and how much of a whirlwind this adventure has been so far.
I had heard from people who have studied abroad before that the first couple of weeks in your host country are not the best, as you’re struggling to fit in with entirely new culture. I’ve found that to be true so far, but as I’ve begun to find my way around without a map, and learned to avoid tourist traps – I feel more at home in Florence.
This morning I woke up on a bus in Florence after traveling to Vienna, Austria for the weekend. It was an eye-opening trip, I went to the Sisi Museum, saw the National Public Library, admired the view from the north tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and roamed around the city. I noticed that the streets were cleaner than in Florence, and the air was more breathable. What surprised me was that I actually missed the dirty streets of Florence, even the rotten eggs smell that intermingles with the wafting aromas of pizzerias and gelaterias. I think that my first trip outside of Italy validated my decision to study abroad in Florence, and I’m happy to be home here for the next four months.