In this entry, I will attempt both poignancy and humor...but it could get a little mushy. Bear with me.
I have moved before, and we all know that it is quite a sad experience to pick up and leave everything you know behind. I would never claim that I "know"' Florence. It is a city full of so many surprises, both modern and historic, that it would take years of exploration to truly conquer it. In these past four months, though, I have come to know my cozy corner of the city, and leaving it, as well as my experiences here, behind is proving to be more emotional than I had expected.
As much as I have enjoyed my time abroad, I have on occasion found myself wishing I could go home. Wishing that I lived in a place where asking for directions wasn't such a trial. Wishing that I could just get a freakin' iced coffee, not a caffe americano. Wishing for my own room. Wishing for my car back. Wishing I was with my friends back home as they celebrated Gator gymnastics victories and 21st birthdays.
As big as all of those details seemed at the time, it has taken all of four months for me to realize that what I've learned here far outweighs the cultural discomfort, homesickness, irritation, and frustration that I experienced here.
The experiences I have had in Florence (and elsewhere!) can never be replicated. That was why I decided to study abroad in the first place! When else would I ever get the opportunity to pick up my life for four months and live in a foreign country, with relative financial security? Answer: Never.
This experience has taught me more about myself that I thought. Even though this was one argument I used to convince my slightly reticent father to let me study abroad, I never imagined the kind of soul-searching I would have to do while living in one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. Stressful? Living in Italy at 20? Really?
The truth is that a lot of issues came to the fore while I was here. I had to confront my problems with food, self-esteem, and self-worth, as well as my feelings about alcohol, dating, and my friendships back home.
While part of me is not ready to come home, and probably never will be, while it is incredibly sad to turn the page on this chapter of my life, I know that what I've learned here and experienced here will be with me for the rest of my life.
And not just because I'm a compulsive photographer, or because I blogged about all of it along the way.
And thanks to all of you for reading. It's been real.