Sunday, September 27, 2015
*Christy posting from Madeline's
Four weeks in to my stay, I'm reflecting on what my expectations were before leaving home compared to what studying abroad and living in Florence is really like. I wasn't expecting the adjustment to city life; the cramped sidewalks, the lack of nature. I wasn't expecting the lovely combination of homesickness and physical sickness that happened within my first week. I wasn't expecting to feel so lost sometimes.
If you couldn't tell, this is my first time abroad and my first time away from home for a long stretch of time. I've always been the one out of my friends to write letters for their plane rides and to like every one of their photos depicting their travels. Now instead of living vicariously through them, I'm seeing things for myself. They were excited for me and I finally received plane letters in return.
My friend Abby who studied abroad in Madrid wrote, " I think it's so great that you will actually be bored one day. While it feels like a vacation and there's so much to explore, you're really going to just LIVE in Italy. So Casual!" When I read this at the beginning of my trip I didn't fully understand and I definitely didn't ever want to feel bored. The first few weeks I would get upset if I ever thought I was taking the experience for granted. I tried to resist feelings of discomfort or sadness and make myself fully appreciate every moment.
I'm glad that my view has shifted and I now understand what she was saying. I will never have the romantic view of Florence which people who see it for a few days have but that's not a bad thing. Instead, I'll have a deeper appreciation for it. I will have felt at home here. I will have repeatedly done all of the little things that tourists don't get the chance to do. These simple moments include sitting in the Mercato Centrale for hours, sketching and sipping a cappuccino, walking down the Arno River on my commute to class, having friends over for dinner, and leaving this city for a weekend trip and then returning home to Florence.
Now the pressure of my own expectations is off and I can take this experience for what it is, along with all the struggles and all the beauty.