Leaving Florence was heartbreaking. I made so many friends over my semester, and I learned so much about the city and the Italian culture. I loved it all. I loved the Renaissance architecture and beauty, I loved the annoying tourists blocking my path to class, I loved the cafe around the corner from my apartment with the bartender who knew my order by heart. My final two weeks were the hardest. Knowing that I was about to leave this magical place and that I would be saying goodbye to so many wonderful people was extremely upsetting. I ended up spending literally every minute with people and out in town. I went almost nightly to the highest point of the city to look over Florence and admire its faraway beauty in peace. What made saying goodbye so much harder was Christmas time. In case you do not know what Florence looks like during December, it is pure joy. Lights fill up the streets, the huge Christmas tree stands high in front of the Duomo, and winter creeps in with scarves and pea coats everywhere. It was truly a dream. My last days in Florence were my favorite. Final exams had passed and I could finally just focus on the city and my last moments with my dear friends. We checked off the final things from our bucket lists and breathed in the Florentine air one last time. I left on an early Monday morning, and the streets were quiet and blissful. Next thing I knew, I was on the plane to come back home. While I was in complete distress and mourning over the loss of my time in Florence, as soon as I stepped foot back home in Alabama, I was elated. I had missed my family and friends (and Chik-fil-a) so much, and for the first night, it didn’t even seem real that I was actually back. I’ve been home for 3 days now, and I feel great. My experience in Florence feels surreal, like it didn’t happen, but my memories, friends, and growth are reminders that it did in fact happen, and that I am one of the luckiest students in the world to have had the opportunity to study abroad. I would not change a thing about my experience in Italy. I met so many people that have influenced me in the best ways possible, and my knowledge of a different culture has overflowed and I could talk to any person about it for days. So while saying goodbye to Florence was extremely painful, saying hello to my loved ones and my home was one of the best feelings in the world. I love Florence, and I am waiting for the day that I can return.

My lovely Italian class – one of our last classes together!