When I arrived in Florence back in January, I remember being absolutely terrified. I had never left the country let alone by myself and I had never been away from home for longer than a month.
I remember walking around that very first day thinking what am I doing here since everything was so foreign and different to me. Those first few weeks were very difficult to say the least. I envied those who came knowing other people from their schools back home or people they grew up with. I knew absolutely no one and had always struggled with being very social.
I was lucky enough to get an apartment in Florence just a few steps away from my school, so I never left that area by myself until about 2 weeks in when I finally mustered up the courage to venture out by myself and get lost in the city. I definitely achieved that goal, I got lost for about an hour but had a great time doing it. I people watched, paid 10 euro for the most overpriced, touristy gelato (I laugh so much thinking back to this and how naïve I was) and saw the beauty of Florence that I had never opened my eyes up to before that. From that day on my independence grew stronger and I became more and more comfortable with the city and the people that occupied it.
These past few months I have grown tremendously. I have become a more social, relaxed person around new friends and strangers. I have learned the most amazing things in culinary school here at Apicius. I have ridden a train 25 different times (I would consider myself an expert now). I have been to Cinque Terre 4 different times, climbed the Duomo 4 times, and climbed the bell tower 3 times making me an excellent candidate to be a tour guide for those places. Most of all I have grown because I have learned things the hard way. I have missed 5 different trains, gotten 4 different things pickpocketed, dealt with language barriers in every country I’ve traveled in (not to mention here in Italy), and many other memorable situations that I can look back at and laugh (or maybe cry a little) and realize how much I’ve grown from them. I am excited to see how these next 3 months treat me, who knows what new stories are still to come!
Jenica is a current student at Colorado State University studying at Florence University of the Arts in Italy, during the Spring 2016 term.