Honestly, I’m surprised I even got into the country.

I have been traveling abroad since I was an infant, coming to America, visiting friends and family back in Malaysia and Hong Kong, traveling to Greece, England and Italy with my dad… I had experience traveling. But when I got to Huntsville International Airport and had received my boarding passes ready to go, the only thing stopping me was my genius self, bringing an expired passport (some how, the lady at the counter also didn’t realize it was expired, I only realized it was expired when I was in line at security). My luck. When I was packing I was sure I double triple checked that I packed my passport but I neglected to check if I brought the right one. I was already a little discouraged flying by myself for the first time, so this was just the icing on the nervous cake. Two panicked hours on the phone with Delta and $250 later, my dad managed to rebook me a new flight leaving the next day. What would I do without him!

The next day, we got to the airport 2 hours early just to make sure that everything was in place. I had taken my old passport and thrown it behind my refrigerator so I couldn’t make that same mistake again. I was ready to be in Italy.

The Tuesday after I arrived in Italy and classes began, my classmates, UA professors and I went on an afternoon hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo and a nearby church. The hike was a hilly uphill climb up steps made of stone. Our professor, Claudia, treated us to some gelato when we reached the top of the “mini mountain”- a satisfying reward for probably the most exercise I have done in a long while. We spent some time touring the church but my favorite part was the view of Florence. From the Piazzale Michelangelo, the Duomo (which is probably the biggest building in Florence) looked like tiny.

After the hike, my roommate and I stopped at a sandwich/coffee shop near the school we study at (Scuola Leonardo Da Vinci) where we got some pretty tasty sandwiches. Though my host mom made me un café every morning, I had made it a habit to get a second espresso midday to have energy until the evening.