My last blog post talked about some of the ins and outs of my overall study abroad experience, since my time to go home was quickly approaching. Fast-forward, I have been home for just over a week now, and personally, it is crazy to think that I spent the last three months living in Europe. In all honesty, it almost feels like it didn’t happen! The pictures and memories seem surreal, and it went by in a blink of an eye.
Before I left, I was able to take a day trip to Rome, and a weekend in the Amalfi Coast: both of which were truly amazing. The Blue Grotto was incredible to see in person, and pictures I have will never do it justice. Positano was a beachy dream come true, and even though it was only the high 60s, I still managed to get a burn/tan. Rome was everything the Lizzie McGuire movie made it out to be. And contrary to popular belief, you can do Rome in a day, but it took literal blood, sweat, and tears. Bloody blisters, sweat sprinting from place to place, and almost crying because I was so just done. But, we did it, and it was so worth it. Those two trips were a perfect way to round out my time in Italy, and of course I enjoyed my final days and nights of Florence.
After a few meltdowns trying to pack all my bags (that 50 pound weight limit is rough), one final meal at Gustapizza, and an overload of gelato, I woke up bright and early at 4 am to head back home. Five flights, four airports, one set of tears, and airport sprinting at the Boston Airport later: I made it home. Being back is such a strange feeling, and I definitely suffered from jet lag. Since graduation isn’t for another few weeks, I jumped right back into work and getting unpacked, and attempting to get my life together after being away. So many people have asked how the trip was, and I have found how hard it is to truly recall everything and put it into words. Even remembering all the places I traveled is a struggle. In those moments, it felt like I was trying to take it all in, and now I am just trying to remember it.
Though I am surrounded by fast food and not-so-healthy choices now, I still am taking what I learned in Italy regarding their culture and cooking, and holding out on those ways. My diet really has cleaned up, and I appreciate fresh, healthy foods so much more than I did before. In my Italian Food and Culture class, we learned about using what is in season, and how to realize what your body needs. Also, appreciating the environment by walking more, realizing what is waste and recycle, and making better choices in this area is a focus I want to keep improving after seeing how great Italy was about it. Studying abroad obviously taught me about traveling, myself, and I received a great education with my classes, but the little things that I picked up, like those mentioned, are habits you don’t even really consider you’ll come back with, until you do!
Without a doubt, I miss waking up and seeing the beauty of the city and the Arno River, just steps from my apartment. From the amazing food, way too good wine, to the artists on the streets, and nearly endless gelato, I can’t imagine a better place to study than Florence. Being able to jump on a train or a cheap (but a little sketchy) Ryan Air flight to so many cool places was a privilege, and being able to travel like that is something I will also miss. On the other hand, it is safe to say I am adjusting back to the U.S. life just fine, considering the amount of Chipotle I have consumed already, and how happy I was to see my big cloud bed.
I love sharing my stories, pictures, and experiences, and hope I can be an advocate for taking the leap to go abroad to any student interested. With the ups and downs, the good and the bad, overall, Florence treated me exceptionally well and I am so happy I spent my last semester of college abroad. I cannot wait for the next time I have the chance to hop across the pond, and continue to broaden my travels. For one last time: Ciao!
Kara was a spring 2017 SAI Florence student from Kansas State University.