Here we are 3 weeks since my arrival in Florence and I’ve been doing some reflecting. My time here so far has been incredibly well spent, full of adventures and stumbling upon beautiful places and people that I would have never experienced had I stayed in America this semester. Although refusing that I would be homesick or that I would actually miss life back at my home university, I was sadly mistaken. Adjusting to a new life abroad was much harder for me than I expected. Naïve and wanting to get away from reality for a bit, I came here thinking my lifelong dream come true would overpower any sense of homesickness I may encounter, however that was not the case.
While here my homesickness comes in waves, usually on Sundays after I get back from a weekend trip and have to face the reality of homework and classes. I keep having to assure myself that I am in a beautiful place and yes this is actually happening and yes I am here for another 3 months. The whole experience still seems so surreal to me that when I walk the streets of Florence I have to continually remind myself that I am here, doing what I’ve always dreamed. The funny thing is that whenever I start to miss my family or feel depressed when I can’t text my friends from home 24/7 (I realize how pitiful that sounds and I am welcoming the unplugged environment), I find something beautiful that brings me back to the moment.
Yesterday my roommate and I ventured across the Ponte Vecchio (still extremely strange that I say that in reference to my location) to see the Aldo Fallaci photography exhibit. Fallaci was a photographer for Giorgio Armani and although shy about showing his work, he finally gave in and allowed his work to be put on display. The exhibit is in a villa on top of a hill that overlooks the entirety of Florence, meaning we had already taken 50 pictures by the time we even entered the exhibit. On a perfect day with overcast skies and light coat weather, we wandered through the most beautiful gardens that could seemingly only be staged by a set director. We forced ourselves to step away from the views and entered the exhibit which was a view in and of itself. White fames holding mainly black-and-white photos on a forest green wall, the simplicity made the photos jump out of their frames. Pictures of models, pictures of ordinary people, pictures of happiness and sadness; I fell in love with the vulnerability.
In that moment, I had escaped my mind and floated into Lalaland as I walked inside an Italian villa full of perfectly imperfect photographs. As we made our way out of the villa, we left down a different road that housed a quiet community with beautiful streets. I wished for a professional photographer to take cheesy photos of me that captured my sheer happiness. In case the villa experience wasn’t enough, the end of the hill housed the best gelato place we have encountered since being in Florence. Although we were looking for pastries, we couldn’t pass up the endless flavors so we ordered two scoops and continued on our stroll to find a few leather markets where we looked but didn’t purchase.
Somehow, someway, the universe seems to know just what I need at the perfect moment. Yesterday was exactly what I needed to be reassured that the place I am currently is the place I need to be. Although craving a gossip session with my closest friends and wanting to hear my dad snore in his chair while we watch endless episodes of Big Bang Theory (never thought I’d say that, huh dad?), I have been truly blessed with not only this opportunity but also with the roommates I ended up with. One reminds me of my best friend from college and the other is a crazy, wild California girl who pulls me out of my shell. Together we make a good team and I am grateful that we clicked so instantly. Changing countries, time zones and currency isn’t easy but I am so glad to be experiencing it with good people in the most beautiful place. Day by day I am embracing my homesickness and turning it into a desire to find all of the wonderful hidden places my new town has to offer.
Until next time…