Okay so before I say this, let me get something straight here: I loved studying abroad. I loved walking by the Duomo to class every day (as if you didn’t know that already) I loved traveling every weekend, I loved having one pair of shoes to wear, I loved the music, the food, the people. But let me also say this: Studying abroad is dissimilar to my real life in more ways than the obvious (as that I was in Italy). The main one being that I had nothing to do and no one to answer to.
At first, this is wonderful, breathtaking, grounding. For the first time in my life, I sat. I drank my coffee. I didn’t answer e-mails and return phone calls or update my to-do list. I just drank from my little cup and watched the people walk by and listened to street music.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well yeah, it is. But now imagine this feeling for three and a half months. Eventually, it all gets to the point where you miss responsibilities, working, doing something that contributes to society and progress instead of pissing away your money. Luckily, this feeling rolls around at the three-and-half-month mark.
So as you can probably guess, I’m happy and eager to get back to school and my tutoring job and my job for the Annual Fund and my school newspaper and my honors newsletter and the rest of the seemingly endless amount of things I have to do. I’m ready to actually be a part of the world again and not just freeload off of… myself.
However, not everyone feels this way. I feel like there are a lot of returning students out there who saw their time in Florence as what a life could be, when really, this isn’t very realistic. This is a fantasy. In the real world, you don’t go to the bar on days that end in “y” and you don’t just hope someone will let you onto the train for nothing and you don’t carry a backpack on you with everything to your name. Can you? Yes. Will you? Probably not.
Don’t force Florence, or any other fabulous destination, be your escape. Don’t let it be the way that you got away from the real world for a while and was then forced to come back to mundane, average life. Instead of it being a stopping point, a pretty side street with trees and flowers that you had to leave on your way back to the highway, make it a part of your final destination. Make Florence the way that you changed your real life as you knew it. Let it make you more relaxed, more open to new ideas and new people, let it inspire your love of travel and of art. Don’t look back on your time abroad and say Man, I wish I was still there, but instead let it say, Thank god this made me the way I am today.