A year and a half ago I sat in my architecture studio class in the TDS. It was only a few weeks into my first semester of sophomore year. Upperclassmen who had studied abroad in Germany, Czech Republic and Italy all shared their incredible experience, each unique and fascinating.
Next, my professor drew a small timeline of the average person’s life up until retirement, circling our late teens and early twenties. He said you will never have the time like you do now to further your education and experience a brand new culture. Things like your job, relationship and kids will all tie you down with responsibilities. These four years at Keene you’re free, so go out and live it to the fullest.
A couple days of talking with friends and family led me to choose Florence, Italy, as my destination . The architecture, the food and pure history surrounding this Tuscan city were at the top of the list when it came to making a decision.
This would not be my first time in Europe or even Italy, having seen France, Switzerland, and Italy three summer ago. However my stay in Italy was a very short visit of three days so the chance of spending over three months was a dream come true.
My dream of studying away began to materialize into reality step by step until I stood in Terminal A at Logan Airport with my over-stuffed suitcase and my family by my side.
After saying goodbye to my family, sooner than I had maybe wanted, I made my way through customs and the dream turned to reality. Eight hours and a connecting flight later, we finally arrived. Cobblestone streets, mopeds buzzing along, the famous cathedrals and bustling piazzas were the sights and sounds we experienced for the first time.
I discovered that the Fiume Arno flows right by my apartment and only a few minutes down the road the Ponte Vecchio connected both sides of the city.
It was overwhelming at first but almost two weeks into my stay, I have begun to adjust and immerse myself into a city that was here hundreds of years before me or the States even existed.
Walking to class is a portal into what daily life feels like.
People move slower as they walk on the sidewalk. Street performers play the classic songs of Italian culture on their accordions and lines the length of the street pour out of the many butchers and panini shops. It’s worth the wait!
Half the time I order whatever the panini shop owner thinks is the best. No time to be picky. I am here to taste, see and smell everything Italian food has to offer. Each day I try to take a different way home. Each street is worthy of being in a post card and you never know what hole in the wall restaurant you could find next.
If I am ever lost, a simple look to the sky and pinpointing of the famous Duomo (The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) that towers over the city puts me back on track. Traveling is a must while I am here, and my friends and I already have a google spreadsheet set with cities we must see.
Rome is next. The Vatican, Trevi fountain and Colosseum are only five days and a train ride away. An exciting three months of studying, living and traveling in Europe awaits me and if you as the reader are thinking of studying away I say go for it!
So like the Italians say “Arrivederci!”
Alex Monteforte can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org