With five days left in our study abroad experience, “bittersweet” is truly the only word I can use to fully encapsulate the emotions we are all feeling. Florence has been my home away from home for three and a half long months and its hard to know exactly what I’m “supposed” to feel leaving it behind. When moving in, I never imagine that 111 days would go by as fast as they did. Although thoughts of American flags and seeing my family are hard to keep out of my mind, enjoying my final days in Florence hasn’t been too tough!
The last few days have been filled with excitement around the holiday season here in Florence. The streets are lined with Christmas lights and festive holiday décor. Tonight was the annual tree lighting at the Duomo. It was an amazing gathering for the Florentine people to celebrate the Immaculate Conception, a national Holiday here in Italy. While waiting for the tree to light, I took a second to really appreciate Florence- a city that for four months has let me truly embrace in their culture and celebrate their traditions.
Although the holiday ambiance has been unavoidable, I am still trying to stay focused during my last week at Fairfield and FUA. With three finals and one lesson keeping me from Boston, I can almost taste the Dunkin Donuts coffee! As we’ve been finishing our last classes, one assignment that I know all of the education girls really enjoyed doing was our EDU Diversity journal, “10 Golden Rules” for the girls coming abroad next semester. It was such a bizarre feeling giving advice on something like studying abroad. So much of what you learn here is through experience and I feel it was two days ago when I was hearing advice from last year’s study abroad students. We all were excited to share our own perspectives on what we thought the most important rules to follow were. The ideas ranged from “budget your money” to “travel anywhere and everywhere.”
As excited as we are all to be getting home to America, one of the hardest parts about leaving will definitely be leaving our classrooms. Each week I enter the class I am overwhelmed by the excitement and love that the students have for our time together. The Italian students and teachers have truly been a pleasure to work with and taught me so much about myself as a teacher and a person. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to have worked with such a great class. Although it was so much different from anything I’ve ever done, the reward of listening to them speak a sentence in English because of what I had taught them was one of the best feelings I’ve had in the classroom! I can speak for all seventeen of us when I say that we are going to miss being teachers here.
Florence has been the best home I could have asked for. The character of the city is incomparable and its authentic Italian roots are hard not to fall in love with. The next five days will be filled with “lasts”—last pictures, last gelatos, and last classes, but the memories and experiences I will be taking home with me are truly unforgettable.