In high school, I spent approximately thirty-six hours in Florence as part of a ten-day tour. The first few days of the trip were spent in Greece, surrounded by ancient temples and groves of olive trees. A cloud of cigarette smoke and nearly everyone getting sea-sick separates those days from our time in Italy.
|The Duomo, barely visible from the hotel window.|
We arrived in Florence at night and in our hotel room, I strained to see the illuminated Duomo through a comically small window. My excitement bubbled. The trip was half-way over, but I felt like it had just begun.
Most of our time in Florence was occupied by a trip to the Florence American Cemetery. Students of the local history class, myself included, found the graves of soldiers who attended our high-school. Prior to the trip, we researched their stories and shared them with other students on the trip.
Later on, we attended a leather making workshop and had the opportunity to purchase leather goods for our family and friends.
That day, our tour director, Tom, took a photo of me with the Ponte Vecchio bridge, stating that the only thing that could have possibly made the view more beautiful was the pure joy on my face. In that moment, I was filled with pure, inexplicable bliss. I was just happy to be there and to be in that moment. I had thought about studying abroad before, but in that moment I knew I wouldn’t let myself back out; studying abroad was a necessity.
Later that evening, the teacher who organizes the trips led us up the winding path to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a place he discovered for the first time while backpacking across Europe in college. As I watched the sun set upon the terracotta-tiled roofs, I knew only one thing: I had to come back to Florence. Nearly two years later, after considering every study abroad program that my home university offered (from Athens to Vienna), I was continually drawn back to the opportunities provided by the Florence program. After all, it is only fitting that I spend a semester abroad in the city where I decided that I was going to take the leap.