I have grown in many ways since I have arrived in Florence for my semester abroad. I think the main way I grew in these past few months has to do with my independence. I have become much more independent than I was before coming to Italy. I have always been decently independent but I always relied a lot on the people around me when I was struggling. I always knew I could handle anything I needed to, but I preferred to lean on my loved ones since they were always around me and eager to help. Coming to Florence, with none of my close friends or family by my side, forced me to take that next step to become truly independent. I have faced many obstacles and struggled a lot at different points of this semester. To overcome these struggles and obstacles I had to lean on myself to achieve things that would fix my problems and improve any uncomfortable circumstances I was in. I became my own comfort, which I am very proud of.
I wish I would have considered how many people in my program are feeling the same things as I am. When facing struggles, it is easy to think you’re alone and the only person who is trying to overcome obstacles. When I first got to Italy I definitely thought this and it made my first few weeks a lot harder than they had to be. However, the chances are that there are people in your classes and program that are having the same difficulties. It can be very helpful to talk to people and relate to others when things get a little hard. Friends help Florence feel like a second home, and it is important to reach out to people around you while studying abroad.
The city of Florence was definitely the biggest surprise of my global experience. I did not expect Florence to be the way it is. The city center is what I expected, it gives a town vibe in a city, everything is small and close together which is exactly what I envisioned. However, outside of the city center is very interesting, and I’ve really enjoyed the times I ventured out of the city center. It reminds me more of a big city that I would find in the United States. There are big roads with tons of traffic and the roads themselves and sidewalks are much bigger. Rifredi is one of the suburbs that surround Florence, that is what is pictured on this blog! Also, there are tourists everywhere so you only hear Italian around you. In the city center, I hear English just as much as I hear Italian which I did not expect at all. Overall, these experiences, expectations, and growth has helped shape my study abroad time into one of the best things I have ever done.