From falling asleep on the beach in Malibu, gazing out at the Empire State building from the Top of the Rock, watching the sunset from the mountains of Max Patch, swimming in the hot springs of Costa Rica, to riding ATVs in Cabo San Lucas, this insatiable wanderlust only continues to burn inside of me.
Deciding to study abroad should have been an easy decision. However, jumping from a week long vacation to a four month long study abroad experience was a gigantic leap that automatically ignited my anxiety. Even my parents continued to vocalize their hesitancy with me being across the Atlantic for such a big time commitment. Living with the fear of not seizing this opportunity to venture beyond my hometown referred to as the ‘Brentwood Bubble’ outweighed the apprehension that plagued my mind.
After confirming my enrollment, the excitement fueled the preparation for my trip. Getting closer to my departure date of August 29, the nerves started to fester and the sense of uneasiness began to fill my body.
Two weeks in, now writing from Florence, Italy, this was undeniably the best decision I have ever made in my 21 years of existence.
The grueling flights with up to 30 hours worth of delays and arriving significantly late enough to miss both orientation and the welcome dinner only seemed like a bad omen foreshadowing the rest of my time abroad. Despite all this, being able to soak up the Florentine atmosphere has outweighed all the negatives I endured on the journey it took to get here.
Normal now consists of seeing the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore everyday, known by many as the Duomo that dominates the Florence city skyline. Rather than grabbing a quick Starbucks to go like in the states, sit down for a cappuccino and croissant at the local coffee shop. No longer does the fast-paced, stress-induced American lifestyle exist here. The relaxing aura is infectious and instantaneously alleviated some of the anxiety I felt about this unfamiliar location.
Sitting in class, I’m constantly yearning to go out, meet the locals and explore city streets I have not discovered yet with the seemingly endless amount of hidden routes. Even beyond the city limits of Florence, the enriching history and culture of Europe is yearning to be explored. With Rome now checked off my bucket list, Cinque Terre and Pisa are the next stop for the weekend!
Loving the version of myself I’m becoming, I cannot wait to see how I continue to grow by the end of my time here. Already dreading the goodbyes I’ll have to say to the people and the city that already feels like home in December, I am clutching onto every single second.
Trying to decide whether studying abroad is for you? My advice: book the ticket.
Never again will the entire world be just within your reach. There’s an entire world of adventure that awaits you beyond the college you go to or the town you grew up. We as human beings cannot simply be confined to a single location. In order to fully live and grow, all it takes is a little leap of faith.
Michel is a Fall 2022 Florence student from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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