I have been living in Florence for about one week and let me tell you, it has not been easy. You always see people’s study abroad pictures on Instagram and you hear amazing stories from their trip but something no one talks about is the feeling when you first step off the plane in a brand new foreign country. I don’t want to scare anyone out of studying abroad because everyone should most definitely study abroad at some point in their college careers. I am just shining a light on the fact that study abroad isn’t always smiling and happy go luck travels. Sometimes it’s scary and stressful and you get homesick, and that is something no one speaks about.
However, there’s a reason no one speaks about it, not just because no one likes talking about the times when they felt defeated but also because studying abroad has so many more positives than negatives, you just have to make it through the first week to find out about it.
They tell you all about culture shock before you leave New Paltz but for some reason, I thought that it wouldn’t happen to me. Well, I was wrong. I was “culture shocked” from the moment the airplane landed in Italy. I desperately needed a coffee and when I went up to the coffee counter there was no menu. People were just drinking out of ceramic cups on the counter…nothing like the Starbucks on campus. I asked for a normal coffee and I got an espresso that maybe took two sips to drink, and I had to pay with Euros!
I’ll be the first to admit that I cried on the phone to my mom almost every night this week. I was extremely jet-lagged but most of all scared. This was so out of my comfort zone and everyone was new to me. The people studying abroad at Lorenzo de Medici are from all over the USA and some from other countries, so even my classmates are part of a different culture than I am.
However, I keep reminding myself just how lucky I am to be able to have this opportunity, and I know that once I get more comfortable here, this study abroad experience will become incredible and I will never want to leave.
It has already been one week and life here is getting much better, I am fully adjusted to the time difference, and I have explored already so much of the city of Florence. Florence is absolutely beautiful. In order for me to get to class or anywhere in the city center, I have to walk over a bridge with has an amazing view of the famous Ponte Vecchio. Also, I have to walk past the Duomo to get to my classes which takes my breath away every time I see it.
I am living in an apartment with 3 other girls studying abroad here. None of us knew each other beforehand, so it’s really cool to get to know them. Also, my apartment is so huge and decorated in an old Italian style. There are brick arches, Italian patterned tile, Italian books on the bookshelf, and paintings of religious figures. I have all of my belongings unpacked and it is already starting to feel like home.
My transition to living in Italy was not as smooth as I thought it was going to be but that is okay. Change is difficult and this was a huge change for me. Going to a foreign country not knowing anyone, not knowing the language, and not knowing the culture is so scary but, it is such a great learning experience.
In just one week I have learned so much about myself and I am so proud of myself for embarking on this journey across the world.
I can not wait to share the rest of my 4-month Italian journey with you guys! Ciao!