It has been a little over 3 weeks of my 4 week study abroad program in Florence, Italy, meaning there are only DAYS left…! It’s been….breathtaking, culturally amazing, new, incredible, wonderful, an experience of a lifetime, too fast, and overall an awakening of the senses. You go into an experience with some sort of expectations, maybe even standards, but from my own experience I can tell you that you will only be more pleasantly surprised, taken-aback, but always above and beyond your original thoughts.
I stepped off of the plane in Florence on day 1 to meet my host family, an older lady with her dog, as well as 7 other study abroad students from all over the world. I was intimidated, and I often felt in shock when I would try to communicate even though I was familiar enough with the language to be able to do so. Day by day, I felt more comfortable with everything – the family, my roommate, the other students at the house, my school, and classes. It wasn’t long before I could tell someone I was going “home,” and really feel that Florence was another home, just in a different part of the world.
My days were, and are, pretty easy. Go to class 3 hours a day, explore the city until dinner (at around 8-9), then go out with the group of people in the program. Each day was something new hosted by the program or the school I attended here. From excursions to villas, beautiful cathedrals, wine-tastings, trips to the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Venice, the Milan Expo, Siena, and Pisa, there was so much to see. Although we would average around 8 miles a day, give or take, according to health app, it was no match for the amount of carbs, sugar, and intense deliciousness I was putting into my body every-single-meal. Breakfasts are the smallest portions and dinners are the biggest. Since it’s Italy, everything here is basically carbs, carbs, and more carbs. From pizzas to foccacias, to lasagna and ravioli, to paninis and everything else pasta, there is no way to avoid it. But, no regrets! A little weight gain is nothing compared to tasting authentic delicacies that may never be tasted authentically again! I will always be able to go back and get on track, but I will not be able to just visit Italy on a whim. Everything is absolutely amazing! Let’s not forget the gelato. If you ever had gelato in America, it was not gelato. It was an American wanna-be gelato. True Italian gelato, in all its shapes, sizes, and flavors (oh, and there are SOO many!), will make you question why ice-cream even exists! It’s packed in flavor, with a texture that really hits the spot. Spots you didn’t know existed! Yes, gelato is THAT good! There are also pastry shops on every corner, all worth trying!
As I near the end of this trip (5 days left from today), I will dearly miss it all – the city, the people, the atmosphere, the food, my host family, even my exhaustion from having to walk everywhere. I have seen more than I could have imagine, and I have experienced more than I have dreamed.