May Came Out of Nowhere
Paola, Florence, Spring 2012
May 21, 2012

I can’t believe I have to go home already. It feels like everything’s just begun. Having to leave Florence and all the wonderful people I’ve met here feels impossible. This experience is one I’ll never forget. The places I’ve been will forever be with me. It feels as if April flew by without me even acknowledging its presence to begin with. It began with a trip to Valencia Spain for Easter. It was very short visit but productive none the less. We walked a lot, ate a lot, climbed trees, and ate some more.

The first night we enjoyed some sausage sandwiches and mojitos. We called it an early night since we had decided to do things the Spanish way for the next and stay up until the wee hours of Sunday since we had to be at the airport at 5am anyways. Our hostel was kind enough to keep all our things in their storage room for the whole of the next day. Luggage free we spent our day exploring windy Valencia. We found several large trees to climb and yogurt and other snacks everywhere. Not to forget the fresh oranges from the central market. Then off we went to find the beach. The weather wasn’t the best but it was necessary to see at least one beach while we were there. We spent maybe twenty minutes on the beach before we decided the wind and the sand combination was the best. We ate sandwiches, oranges and sangria for lunch and walked back to the city center. It was more of a trek than a walk given it took us two and a half hours to get back. That night we had delectable tapas for dinner. We then set out to find somewhere to dance. On our journey we found the end of a midnight Easter mass. It was a very interesting thing to witness and definitely spurred up conversation about religion and our beliefs between one of my friends and I. We spent the rest of the night exploring Valencia. Sadly we didn’t find dancing but we had a great time none the less.

April had this bittersweet feeling to it from then on.  We could all feel the end coming but there was still so much excitement going on. To add to the bitter feeling both my boyfriends and my moms birthday were in April making me just miss home so much home. It feels like I spent all of April traveling. I have an once of regret about that. Part of me thinks I should’ve explored Florence more than I did. My logic is, however, that is I leave things to do here it means I will be back sooner or later. After Easter My friends and I had a wonderful day trip to Panzano, a small town about an hour from Florence. It was less of a day trip and more of a lunch trip since our main intention was to visit a well known butcher there and eat at his restaurant. It was delicious and he was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. The next day I took a trip on my own to Bologna. It was a lot of fun to explore the city with no itinerary or map. I ended up finding the modern art museum and a lot of little parks to relax in.

Following that were two large weekend excursions in a row. First I went to the Swiss alps and Munich. It was funny seeing snow in the middle of April. We got to hike down part of one of the alps and of course then spend more time in the bus. Munich was amazing. Everything about that city has convinced me to return someday. Our last stop was Dachua, one of the concentration camps used during WWII. It was a very eye opening experience and I realized how little I really knew about the war and the concentration camps. It hailed as we were walking from one part of the camp to another and that made everything we were being told and seeing so much more gut wrenching to me.

The weekend after I went on an excursion to the Portofino and The French Riviera. It was definitely not swimming weather quite yet but laying out on the beaches was more than enough to make the weekend wonderful. I came back to Florence completely relaxed and then May just came out of nowhere. Now that bittersweet feeling has completely consumed everything I do. I am definitely ready to return to real life but I can’t believe I have to in just six days. Italy has given me so much and I will never stop talking about everything and everyone who made this experience so wonderful.

Paola – Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College

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SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.