The out-of-sync blinking of SEPTA trains getting ready to leave their platforms, the waving of four large American flags outside of a train station that could be confused with a capital building, travelers lined up down the block waiting for their Mega and Bolt buses. This is now the life outside of my window.
I packed my life in Florence into a polka dot suitcase and a Osprey travel backpack, mailed the luggage home, and did something that terrified me a lot more than I thought it would: I left. I knew that leaving Europe was going to be a cliche emotional rollercoaster. What I didn’t know was that I was boarding that rollercoaster as soon as I set foot out of my apartment for the last time.
It was like someone had plopped me in Florence for the first time ever. I took photos of the apartment. The Duomo left me breathless. A lump formed in my throat, but the tears never found their way out of my eyes.
I departed from the train station on a bus bound for the Pisa airport, where I boarded a flight bound from Brussels Charleroi. From there, I spent about a day each in Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Rotterdam, and a few days in Amsterdam. I have a lot to say about my eight days of solo travel, so stay tuned; I promise that those posts will start coming out soon.
On May 16, I walked from my hostel on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, hopped on a train to the airport, and checked in for my flight on the kiosk. Everything went exactly like it was supposed to, kind-of. My flight was delayed and because of that I was able to get a flight the next day for no extra charge; I was buying time for the cost of night in a hostel and a few meals. I took the offer without thinking too much of whether or not it was actually a good idea. Coming back to the states meant not having a plan for the summer, not knowing (for the first time in a long time) what I was going to do next. Studying abroad for a semester had been a lofty goal for a long reason and for an even longer time–having achieved that left me a little clueless.
Take two and I actually made it through airport security, to the gate, and onto the plane. In my three weeks at home, I didn’t spend more than three days consecutively in my county. I went to New York twice and Philadelphia five times before I had a solid internship plan and an apartment to live in.
Now I’m here, sitting at my desk as a watercolor sunset paints itself behind Philadelphia’s center city skyline. I’m finally blogging again, something that I ran away from during my last weeks in Europe and my first weeks home because it made me face the memories of my time abroad that already feel so, so distant. I’m interning at a museum that I love dearly. Tomorrow I’m going shopping at my absolute favorite grocery store–I won’t deny my love for Florence’s Conad, but Trader Joe’s will always be my soulmate. Oh, and I’m looking for a part-time job. Anyone hiring?