“SELFIE? SELFIE?” were the very first words I heard upon arrival in Florence, Italy — possibly one of the most magical and historic cities in all of Europe.
“No grazie,” I replied to the insistent men shoving the ubiquitous, yet ingenious, 12” mechanisms in my face as I struggled to drag my suitcases along the narrow cobblestone streets.
The cab driver had hastily dropped me off in front of the looming wooden doors of my apartment on Via Melarancio (which at the time, I could barely pronounce correctly despite the two semesters of Italian under my belt). My host school provided me with about four different keys that appeared to be of all different shapes and sizes — not to mention decades. After a good thirty minutes of struggling to open the three doors required to enter my apartment, and hauling 60 pounds of luggage up several flights of stairs, I finally made it to the quaint little place I’d call my own for the next four months. Sure, it may lack the cushy comforts of home such as dependable Wi-Fi, heat that the government doesn’t have total control over, or Netflix to lull me asleep at night, but I couldn’t be more grateful. After all — who needs social media 24/7 when you’re in FIRENZE?!
I’ve been in Florence for a little over two weeks now, and if you had to ask me how it compares to the States, I’d say I never want to leave. In fact, I’ve already begun to emotionally prepare myself for the day I have to pack up and part ways — the same way you’d prepare yourself to lose a beloved family pet to old age (okay, maybe a bit less depressing). In just two weeks, I’ve managed to make amazing friends and meet so many interesting people, interact with natives, eat authentic Italian cuisine, salsa dance, paint, order my first legal drink, get lost almost every day on my way home, eat in a bougie European McDonald’s that charges 25 cents for ketchup, catch a cold, climb the Tower of Pisa, and more. Probably one of my favorite aspects of Florence itself is the fact that it’s a small city you can walk across in about twenty minutes jam-packed with things to do, places to go, and people to see. Simply being here makes me anxious to sit still because there’s just so much to see and experience – not only in Florence, but also throughout Italy and the rest of Europe. If I’ve learned anything in these last two weeks, it’s been to seize every opportunity you can and make the most of it.
I feel like a bright-eyed bushy-tailed freshman in college all over again; it’s almost as if being overly eager is an advantage here — you’re more productive that way.
Italian Phrase of the Week: “Cogliere l’attimo!” meaning, “Seize the day!”