My semester abroad is quickly coming to an end. It was as if in the blink of an eye everything has turned into memories. I am sad to be leaving, I feel like a part of me will always be left in Florence. It was tough at first, but I have learned how to adjust to a completely different life in Italy. This lifestyle is one that made me so anxious when I first arrived because I was completely uncomfortable in my new surroundings. I am now comfortable and finding it very hard to leave. The ability to travel around Europe when studying abroad is so special. I have found myself traveling as many weekends as possible as long as my budget allowed it. Even with the semester ending, there are so many places I still wish that I could visit. Europe has so much history and culture, there is so much learning to do and so much to take in! The great part about Europe is that every new place has something magical to offer. Nothing is the same!
During my stay in Florence, I have learned something that I will carry with me forever. I have learned to make the best out of my mistakes and worst situations. When I fail in something, I never count it as a failure. Everything is a learning experience. I have learned to make the best out of my own mistakes. I have learned that if I continue to push forward, I will eventually succeed. I count my adjustments and ability to make Florence my home a success because it is something I never actually thought was possible. I will also be taking back a handful of new perspectives to the states. I have traveled throughout Europe and taken a course on Intercultural Communication during my stay here. I have experienced what it is like to be treated differently based on the language barrier or the plain fact that I am an American. I found this type of treatment in more localized areas. I didn’t take these instances as something negative simply because I took into consideration the common interactions these groups of people have had with Americans or the thoughts they might have towards Americans. Once you smile and attempt to speak the Italian language to the best of your ability, the locals will warm up to you.
The past two weekends have been full of travel. I was able to go to Cinque Terre, and I can honestly say it is almost indescribable. We stayed in La Spezia for one night and in the morning we took a ferry to the five towns of Cinque Terre. The ferry ride took awhile, but I was not complaining! Absolutely nothing will ever be able to match the views on the ferry ride. Castles with huge walls would sit on the mountains above the crystal clear water. I felt as if I was in a Disney movie. Every color was so natural and pure, almost as if what I was seeing wasn’t even real. We stopped in Monterosso for the first day and decided to hang out on the beach. We loved the beach and small fell in love with the small town Monterosso so much so that we decided to stay in the town one more night before heading back to Florence for class on Monday.
The following weekend was quite a special and interesting experience. Melissa and I went to Abruzzo, Italy. Melissa has italian family in Abruzzo, so we went to visit and stay with them. She hadn’t seen them in 7 years, so this experience was great for the both of us. We were overly excited to go on this trip due to the fact that Abruzzo was not much of a tourist area, it was very localized. We arrived in the small town with lots of hugs. Even though I am not blood related, I was treated as if I was. I was able to experience the Italian culture in full effect. In Florence, there are many tourists, so much of the customer service is also in English even if it is broken English. In Abruzzo, we were forced to test our Italian and understand what her cousins were saying to us. The meals were delicious! We had about 6 courses for every single dinner. Lunch and dinner are the most important part of the days. We are expected to pace ourselves rather than rush through the meals. It is a time for family and talking. No one is in a hurry to eat. I like this idea because food is a way that people connect to one another.
We went to Melissa’s cousins’ house for a dinner one evening and met two of the sweetest children. I really felt the beauty of culture when the young Italian girl who looked to be about four or five began to interact with us. She knew there was a language barrier, but she wanted to play. She used her eyes and her hands to explain the game to us and she would smile and laugh as if she was having the time of her life. Indeed, we were too. Certain instances like this really show us that there is so much love in the world. If we all thought as purely as this little girl, the world would get along. Across cultures and languages, we really aren’t all that different. We are all humans looking for our place in this world. In Florence, I believe I have found who I am.