I think most people studying abroad are at an age that makes it pretty hard to give life advice, so I’ll go ahead and just give my two cents and you can do with that what you will. I’ve never been a big planner. Before coming to Florence, I would constantly have people asking me if I had a list of places I wanted to go once I started my study abroad experience. I might rattle off a couple of places that seemed interesting, but the truth is that I wouldn’t really know where I wanted to go until I got here, so I decided not to have any excursions or trips planned. Almost every single one of my favorite memories or most life-changing experiences developed organically and without any sort of plan. This attitude was validated during my first week in Italy.
The first Saturday I was in Florence my roommates and I were talking about how the Venice Film Festival was starting that weekend. After about 10 minutes of talking, we decided we’d book train tickets that night and go to Venice for a couple of days to see some premieres at the festival. Most of the trip was pretty sporadic, but it was a blast. We saw a couple of premieres that were totally different from normal movie showings, found a beautiful Airbnb along one of the canals, and severely underslept. This wasn’t a trip that I would have ever predicted happening, but it will definitely be one that I remember for the rest of my life. As much fun as this trip out of my host city was, just being in Florence has been quite the adventure.
Waking up every day in Florence and trying to make a plan for the day is a pretty bold thing to do. Whether it’s checking out a new landmark or looking for a good local restaurant, there are plenty of activities and opportunities to keep you busy. I’ve found that the longest days full of new experiences happen without any sort of plan. Just the other day I woke up thinking I would go shopping and maybe find some cool photo locations, but instead, I ended up trying three new restaurants, talking to countless locals, exploring two markets, climbing Piazzale Michelangelo, and finishing the day at a bar for study abroad students where I got to meet tons of new people. This was a busier day than usual, but it’s experiences like this that make me feel like I’ve been in Florence for months, not weeks. I still don’t really have a plan for the rest of my time abroad, and that’s why I’m so excited for what’s to come.
Again, I’m not at an age to be giving much advice, but I will say that if you are going to travel or study abroad that you shouldn’t be too attached to any plans. Pursuing uncertainty ensures that you won’t be able to establish many expectations for what comes next, and this will help develop an experience that you never could have imagined.
Isaac is a Fall 2021 Florence student from Colorado State University.