When I got the email that our study abroad program had been canceled, I had the same reaction as I’m sure every other study abroad student had: absolute devastation. I had been watching the news updates all week as other programs in Florence were getting sent home, but I just couldn’t believe that we would be packing our bags to leave as well.
Studying abroad in Italy is something that I had been planning and looking forward to for as long as I can remember, so being sent home only halfway through my program was a sort of heartbreak I had not been prepared to face. As I am sure everyone is already aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything the world has ever seen, and it has already taught me a lesson that will stick with me forever: Sometimes things will happen in life that are completely out of our hands, and while we may not be able to change the situation, we can choose how we react to it.
While parting ways with Italy was hard, my first week back in the United States was even more difficult. Not only did I really miss Florence, but I was also adjusting to self-isolation and the shift to online classes. There were times where I had a very negative attitude about it, but rather than dwelling on these things I couldn’t change, I decided to make the best of it. I focused on my online classes, got back into fitness, and started a journal about my time abroad. There was nothing I could do to return to Italy right away, but I did have the opportunity to spend the weeks I would have been abroad in a way that was still meaningful.
While this lesson may seem cliche, taking on this attitude has helped me make the most of a very unfortunate situation. When reflecting on my time in Florence, I do not think of how it was cut short, rather, I focus on all of the beautiful places I got to see, the wonderful people I met, the amount of pasta I ate, and the memories I will forever cherish. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience that many people do not get to have, so I feel so fortunate that I was able to spend two months learning and exploring in Italy.