A few days ago I kissed my family goodbye at the airport ready to board a plane to Italy. Underneath my excitement was one pervasive thought: “Can I do this?”
This is actually my second semester studying abroad. I’m a junior in Gallatin and I spent spring semester of my sophomore year in London. When I look back on my time in London I think I was very lucky. London quickly became my favorite city and I was able to travel to several amazing places on the weekends. I also knew a few people going into the program and my best friend lived across the hall from me. I only felt homesick for about a week in March. I realize that most abroad experiences are usually a little bumpier than my time in London, which is why I had more anxiety going into Florence.
I’m very close to my family, so leaving them again for four months was not easy. In addition to this, I only know one other person in Florence and I can say about five words in Italian. I sat on the plane worrying about how I’m going to communicate in a language I don’t speak and how—with absolutely no sense of direction—I’m going to find my way around in a completely new city. But now that I’m here, I find myself settling back into the study away mindset and I couldn’t be more excited.
Although I still don’t recognize anything when I walk around the streets of Florence, I am learning quickly some new things about the people and the city. For instance, cashiers at grocery stores get really annoyed if you don’t have small change; Italian people don’t seem to say “excuse me”; if the weather says only 1% chance of rain it’s probably still going to rain; and if you don’t weigh your fruit before checking out, the cashier will yell at you. I’ve spent a lot of my time here so far feeling embarrassed for something I’ve done wrong and pathetic for my attempts at speaking Italian. With my blonde hair and pale skin I’m already pretty clearly labeled as a foreigner. I keep reminding myself that these are just bumps in the road and I can do this. I can’t wait for the day when I’ll be able to walk down the street and know exactly where I am and where I’m going.
I applied to study in Florence on a whim, not knowing whether I could actually manage to do a second semester abroad with my schedule. My concentration focuses on different forms of creative expression—music, art and writing. With all of the amazing history and beautiful sites in Florence, it feels like the perfect place to study the arts.
The cherry on top of my time in Florence is my dorm and the campus. I haven’t had the best experiences with NYU housing, so I was so relieved and excited to see where I will be living this semester. I’m sharing an apartment with six other girls in a building that apparently used to be a church. It’s beautiful and spacious and having Italian neighbors in the building makes me feel more like a local. The campus itself is breathtaking. I feel so incredibly lucky that I get to be here and study in those beautiful buildings. I can’t believe that I’m here and I can’t wait to see what this semester will bring.