I am truly sorry I have been absent from my blog posts for a few weeks, but I am overly excited to share what I have been up to with you all! These past weeks almost feel like a blur due to my visitors as well as midterms. The week before spring break was designated completely to academics. I am taking five classes at LDM and had to be sure I was prepared for my midterms. I was completely relieved when all of my exams were over, and I had a huge treat waiting for me outside of the classroom! My mom, sister, and dear friend had landed in Florence the moment I stepped out of my last exam.
Immediately, I headed to schedule a Tuscany wine tour, and following that I headed straight to the hotel. They were staying in a wonderful location overlooking the Ponte Vecchio. It was such a wonderful and comforting feeling to see familiar faces from the states in Florence. To be completely honest, it didn’t feel real at all. I am now adjusted to the ways of Italy, so it was different for me to be able to retreat back to my comfort zone a tad. They were here for a week, yet it felt as if they had only just arrived when it was time for them to go. My best friend and roommate Melissa graciously assisted me as being tour guides around Florence for the week they were here to visit. I wanted them to see as much as they possibly could. It was so awesome to see the reactions of both my mom and sister as they saw amazing sights in Italy that they had never before seen. This brought me so much happiness knowing that they were able to finally see things they never before had. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t get emotional being able to see my mom witness things she had never seen before. Her reactions will stick with me forever. I always reiterate how this opportunity has opened a new perspective to me on traveling. You truly find yourself while traveling. Nothing materialistic can suffice for the happiness you can receive when experiencing things you never have before with people very dear to you.
Following the departure of my family was a new adventure awaiting. For the remainder of spring break I would be spending my time in Corfu, Greece! Melissa and I planned this trip with two friends we made while studying abroad here in Florence. First, we were on a ferry ride for about 18 hours, following that was an hour boat ride to the bus. Finally, the bus dropped us off at the Pink Palace. The boat ride was definitely long, but we had a blast and made the best of it. I had the time of my life in Greece and was able to make relationships with new friends as well as build recent friendships. There were all students at the Pink Palace, so there was plenty of entertainment and a breathtaking beach just steps away from our room. Overall, the trip was relaxing and rejuvenating! I was so thankful to have traveled with great friends who made the entire experience worthwhile.
A day after I arrived back home from Greece, I had a new visitor arriving! My best friend from my hometown, Kelly. She got a taxi from the airport to my apartment around 11:00 in the morning. My emotions had already been on a roller coaster due to my family seeing Florence and then heading off to Greece…but this really set them off! I saw Kelly step out of her taxi outside and immediately took off running to her. I was trying hard not to cry as I hugged her and was extremely proud as she made her travels to me all by herself! I had a little shorter than a week with Kelly, so I knew we had to make the best of it. I was tired, but there was no time for me to slow down, my adrenaline was pumping. We went straight to eat so that Kelly could try a glass of Chianti wine as well as her first Italian pizza! Needless to say, she loved it! Friday came, and it was my birthday. I can’t tell you how overwhelmed and happy I was to be able to have both of my best friends in Florence to celebrate me entering my twenties. We watched the sunset at Michelangelo and listened to wonderful live music, then we went to dinner and out to celebrate at the disco! The next day Melissa and I took Kelly to the leather markets where she bought the first bag she saw. It was funny to Melissa and I being able to compare living on a budget in Florence as opposed to a visitor being able to spend travel money! If anyone was going to shop till she dropped, it would most definitely be Kelly. I was so sad walking her to a taxi at five on Monday morning, but I knew I had my share of fun with my visitors, and it was time to get back into the groove of things.
I have been tremendously occupied for the past few weeks, but I would not have had it any other way. I am realizing how blessed I am to have had this experience and to have amazing friendships both old and new. I never want this semester to end, so I intend on making the best of it for my last month. I know that this opportunity will stick with me forever, and I can’t wait to start to see how it has shaped me when heading back to the states.