There is the saying “You don’t know what you have ‘till it’s gone” and that is just a fact of life. Especially when you are living outside of a country and the norms and cultures are very different from what you are used to. Depending on where you are living, you can sometimes miss the things that you are so used to seeing in your everyday life.
Living in the heart of Florence is not bad at all and in fact, everything is in walking distance. I’m pretty sure I have lost some weight from the 30-minute walks I take to my internship from my home; everything I need is only five to 10-minutes away. Having a supermarket around the corner is also very convenient as my roommates and I rotate who goes out to buy and make lunch or dinner together. There are also cafes and restaurants so close to each other that it’s possible to go broke by buying food alone.
However, as much as the city is great for walking and exploring, there is a severe lack of plant life around the city. Most plants around the city are small plants, and the buildings are what mostly provide shade when you’re walking. It was not clear to me until I crossed the bridge on my internship that I noticed the need for trees around the heart of Florence. Every time I walked over the bridge, it wasn’t just calmer from giant crowds of people; it was also refreshing to see the thick and giant trees providing shade as you walked down the street. It provided a sense of calmness that is hard to come by when I’m in the middle of the city.
In addition, it is important to remember that this study abroad is not only changing oneself but it can be a bit hard for families when they see you leave. At Marymount, I live with my parents and commute to the university which is helpful for me since I can work easier at home and make my lunches and dinners. Even after I left, my mom kept telling me how much she misses me even when we talk three times a week. She even held back tears when I left the airport. It also helps a lot to talk to your family members at home since it can help with comfort in living in such a new place.
Even living with others has been challenging a little bit for me. I’m lucky enough to have roommates that are fairly calm and have different backgrounds than my own. One of them is from Sweden and the other is from Minnesota in the US. It helped a bit that living with my parents has gotten used to me to sharing things and doing some household chores. However, they have their things that can bother me at times. They sometimes forget to do basic house work such as taking out the trash or the fact that I’m the only one able to cook bothers me.
On a similar note, there is no air conditioning in my apartment. It does not help that the weather outside has been a high of 90 degrees. Luckily, the apartment comes with fans for everyone to use in this hot weather. I also made the mistake that I did not realize the colder temperatures don’t come around till mid-October to early November. I mostly packed jeans and sweatpants with hoodies and jackets. Yet I know that can help with the winter when I go back home for the holidays.
In conclusion, even though being in the middle of Florence is exciting and wonderful to live in, that does not mean it doesn’t come with its own set of challenges. It is hard to deal with emotional feelings such as missing family, certain foods, friends, scenery and the list goes on. The longer I live here, the more I start to miss the little things that made me feel at home. However, I believe that once I overcome that, I know I can improve myself and hopefully become a better person from this experience. Even then, the reality always hits that you never know what you had until it is gone.