When the plane touched down in Rome, I was beyond excited to be in Italy. I felt a bit overwhelmed with how busy it was how different the buildings look, and even the people (how they dress, language barrier, etc.).  There were no negative thoughts running through my head at all, I was extremely excited.  I first spent two days in Rome with my parents accompanying me, before we arrived in Florence.  In my opinion, Rome is way different than Florence and was a lot harder to get around, with a lot more people.  When I spent time in Rome, I thought Florence would be similar, but I was wrong. Rome is a lot bigger of a city than Florence, which is part of why it was a lot more populated.  My first picture abroad was at Saint Peter’s Basilica, which was our first stop right off of the plane, it was unbelievably beautiful. 

My favorite thing about my host location is definitely how homey and welcoming Florence is.  It truly feels like I would be able to move here for the rest of my life and be content, and I have never felt that about a place I visited before.  Florence has a feeling that you can only know if you have visited. I felt safe and at home. I will definitely miss the food the most, as it is some of the best food I have had in my life. 

I am currently enrolled in one class here, which is Food, Culture, and Society in Italy. I did not know any of my classmates on the first day, but as each class went on, the closer I became to some of the girls. The major difference between this class and a class I would take at Bama is that this class is more of a fun elective sort of class, where we have cooking labs and make foods such as risotto and tomato soup and go on field trips to try local street foods. Taking a class here doesn’t feel that different educationally or from a worldview standpoint because my class is full of American college students, which makes it more comfortable, which is why no adjustments needed to be made for me personally. 

Since I was only abroad for three weeks, I was only able to go on two weekend trips while abroad.  For my first weekend, it was my 21st birthday weekend and my boyfriend and I went to the Amalfi Coast. We went to Praiano, Positano, Amalfi, and a boat trip to Capri for the day. It was the most amazing experience and something I have dreamed about doing for a long time.  For my second weekend, I did a weekend by myself.  I signed up for a Tuscan Wine Tour, a visit to Pisa, and a visit to San Gimignano all in 12 hours via SmartTrips. I definitely recommend booking your weekend trips through them because it is reasonably priced and an amazing experience. On that Sunday, I did another SmartTrip to Cinque Terre, which was so great.  We visited little towns throughout Cinque Terre and spent most of the day on the beach, which was very needed.

I haven’t met very many locals here, I mostly spend time with my roommates and class friends.  I think that if I were here for a longer period of time, I would be able to meet the locals and connect with them more. 

Language barriers have been one of the biggest adjustments that I needed to make while moving here for three weeks.  I have noticed that many Italian-speaking people can not understand what we Americans are saying a lot of the time.  The best thing you can do in situations like these is to be patient and nicely repeat yourself or take a different approach to what you are asking as many times as you need. Through the class that I am taking, I definitely have been learning a little bit of Italian which helps when communicating with workers but also body language helps a lot as well. 

My five senses described in my abroad experience would be, see: the Duomo (Florence’s largest tourist attraction), taste: tomatoes, hear: “Caio”, smell: fresh pasta, feel: at peace. 

Now that I go home in a few days, I have been collecting stuff to bring home such as truffle cream and oil, lots of pesto, risotto, wine, balsamic, and dried pasta.  My thoughts about going home have been pretty different every day.  Some days I am ready to go back and start my summer at home with a set routine and work schedule, but other days I want to stay here for longer, enjoying the food and the scenery and that “at peace” feeling.