Although it feels like far less, I have been in Europe for 50 days now! I’ve heard that there are a few stages study abroad students go through, and I came to realize that it’s completely true.
When I first arrived in Florence, I was amazed by every little thing. Each aspect of Florence and the Florentine lifestyle seemed like a dream, and I could not grasp the fact that it would be my home for an entire semester. I felt the need to experience everything, and inevitably burnt myself out after the first few weeks. It felt like a vacation before classes got difficult, so I felt like any time spent relaxing or doing nothing was time wasted. I quickly realized that everyone needs time to relax, especially after I got sick and was forced to do so.
When the excitement wore off, I was hit with a wave of homesickness. Although I normally go a couple months without seeing my family when I’m in Pittsburgh, something about being abroad makes the homesickness much more intense. While I have really wonderful friends with me in Florence, I couldn’t help but feel a void by not being able to see my family and friends from Pitt. I wanted nothing more than to call my mom whenever something happened, or to walk over to my friends’ apartment to hang out with them after class. Even when I was surrounded by people here, it felt really lonely for a while, and still sometimes does.
While I still get hit with waves of loneliness every so often, I feel very comfortable in Florence now. The city feels like home, and I have my daily routine, just like I would in Pittsburgh. I have already become much more independent than I was before, out of both necessity and desire to do so. I have started traveling throughout Europe more, which is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced and I’m really thankful to have met friends here who make the experience even more whole for me. I think anyone who has the opportunity to study abroad should absolutely do it, because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change your life.