Sunday, October 11, 2015

Quando a Firenze…

Reflecting on the past few weeks of my stay in Florence, I realize just how much my perception of my experience here has evolved through time.  Before my departure to Italy, I was ecstatic to begin my journey abroad in a setting that was completely different from that of home. I couldn’t wait to immerse myself into an environment that wasn’t limited by familiar surroundings. I was ready to explore beyond my boundaries. Although I knew that I might struggle with the unfamiliarity, I was determined and ready to face this challenge in my life.

At least… that was what I had set my mind on until I finally set foot in this foreign city and experienced for myself what living as a Florentine was actually like. The crowded streets full of bustling tourists, the narrow cobblestone roads, and the constant heavy smell of cigarettes lingering in the air was all that I could put my mind on for the first couple of days.  As disappointing as it is, I found myself yearning for a sense of familiarity and comfort: of home.  I felt guilty, as though I had failed my own goals of finally doing something that was beyond my comfort level. I soon realized that the only way to stop feeling homesick was to immerse myself even deeper into the Italian culture.

I started to take my time to observe my surroundings at a closer glance. Once the weekends came around, I would venture out and explore the city’s hidden gems: the delicately adorned vintage stores, the petite bakeries that sell their sweet and savory pastries, the shiny new supplies neatly displayed on the shelves at the art supply stores, and who could forget the wonderful Central Market of San Lorenzo where shopping for groceries is a treat rather than a chore. Florence was finally starting to feel like my second home. I found myself wanting to take more time to fully absorb my surroundings; From sitting on the steps in front of the Duomo at 9pm to sketch, to going for a morning run by the Arno and feeling the Tuscan wind blow gently on my skin, these moments give me another clear reminder of my original intent of studying abroad in Italy. All there is left to do now, is to look at as much art as I can, explore and travel all of Italy and its neighboring European countries, and eat as much gelato as possible because when in Florence…

- Soyoung Lee

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