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[A Letter] To Florence and The Abroad Experience

Because a longwinded Instagram Post wouldn't do this experience justice.

Dear Florence and The Abroad Experience,

At the start of the whole thing, I hated you. I wanted to go home. I felt as if I didn't need to go abroad, I thought was above the whole experience. I was humbled and eventually came around. I didn't know everything about the world. (I still don't) Getting lost allowed me to see, learn, and be immersed. Oddly enough, when I was the most lost, that's when I found myself. I began to appreciate the long walks across the Arno on the Ponte Santa Trinita. Slowly but inevitably, I fell in love and my eyes (and heart) were opened. I know the truth can set you free, but I think love can too.

THE FREEDOM. Oh, my goodness, the freedom I felt was like no other. I could be who I wanted to be, do what I wanted to do, and with who I wanted to be with. I was living, breathing, and experiencing all that life was giving me. No strings attached.

Florence was a learning experience and not just because I went to class Monday through Thursday. I learned about fashion, Renaissance art, the Italian language, and myself. The greatest learning experience happens outside the classroom. I learned that I can adapt, think quickly, and solve any problem.

the fear. I'll be honest and acknowledge it. I was scared. I was lonely. I was anxious, unsure, and insecure. Living abroad is exhausting, it's a challenge that only brave can take. Some days my brain would hurt from taking it all in. I loved it, but I longed for the comforts and ease of home. Although I was in love (and wanted to stay), I knew desperately needed to leave. I had to go home but I didn't want to leave the experience and life (I had abroad) behind. All good things come to an end, right?

They do. Florence was fast. At the time, I thought that September would never end. However, come late November I find that time is flying by and days slipping away. My last days were a mixture of excitement and sadness. I had to take it in one last time. Say "ciao" and bye for now.

And last, but not least, is love. It's all about love. The entire experience is about love. Not that romantic love (necessarily) but about the love you have for the places you travel, your study abroad city, your friends and family, and yourself.

Florence, you filled my heart (with love) and head (with memories); you changed me and my life.

Grazie mille Firenze, bacio,

Natalie D.


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