La Bella Vita

Dear, Pre-Departure Nico, you have no idea what you’re about to get yourself into.

You decided to throw caution to the wind, pack up your life, and move to Italy for four months. Congratulations. You had assumed life would go on as normal, and you would just be in a new place. You were right, in a way. Your adaptability to the world will be a great strength as you live in a new country with a language barrier and different customs. You are prepared to take on this challenge. You’re going to meet new people, curate new friendships, and grow into a more complete global citizen. You’re going to learn the basics of a new language, which is pretty crazy to think about. Most of all, you’re going to think about your life in the United States in a new light as you learn more about life in Italy, and there are going to be some bitter-sweet things to think about.

Moving across the ocean to a new land is something that can be daunting. You’re scared right now and I know how that feels. “Go with the flow” you’ll tell yourself, and it will work out. The first couple of weeks are going to be weird, living with new people, experiencing different foods, adjusting to the tap water (that’s a really rough period of adjustment), but once you get used to it you are going to love it. You’re going to take this as an opportunity to grow into a changed person. First and foremost, you will learn how to cook here. I know exactly what you’re thinking “I already know how to cook,” yeah not really, you’re going to get a lot better. Cooking is also going to teach you about time management. Again, you’re thinking you already know about that, and you don’t. You’re really bad at managing time. Cooking will help with that. And you’re going to learn how to balance working, studying, and living in a foreign country. It’s hard at times but we take things one at a time and grind through. You’re going to make mistakes, get lost, go out too late, and do a lot of other stupid things, but you’re going to learn from all of your experiences. You’re going to grow into a more worldly person from your life here.

You’re going to have an existential crisis towards the end. It’s easy to come here, but it’s so hard to leave. We don’t want to go back to the States, but all good things must come to an end. It’s not that we don’t miss our friends and our home and a lot of other things in the US, but there’s something deeply sad about leaving the life we’ve built in Florence. It’s with a mix of dread, excitement, and deep sadness that we prepare to leave all too soon. It feels like just yesterday that we were moving into our tiny apartment with new people in an area all too unfamiliar, and it’s really upsetting to think it’s coming to an end. You’re going to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience and nobody can take away the memories you made. You never expected how meaningful this semester would become.

It was with great surprise we realized how easy adjustment would be. Moving to Italy was daunting despite our adaptability. You’re going to be surprised how easy it becomes to get around in a new life once your start learning the language. You’re also going to be surprised by how quickly you pick up the language. Languages have never been your thing, you barely graduated high school because of how poorly you were at Spanish in Spanish 5. I thought Italian would be impossible to pick up, but you’re going to learn it quite well. It has been really fun learning a new language and living a new life, you’re going to be surprised how well we do.

Now that I’m in my final days, it’s easy to look back and be sad, but you should look ahead and be excited. It’s something you’re going to treasure forever, and something you’ll look back on favorably for the rest of your life.

Take it easy,

– Future Nico