I once read a quote somewhere that said, “If you weren’t ready, you wouldn’t have the opportunity.” I was getting ready to take off to a new country and leave the only home I have ever known and study abroad.
When I first decided to do this, I thought I was going crazy. The opportunity seemed like something out of a dream. I had no idea who was going, so of course that scared me. For some reason though, the fear was not enough to hold me back, and so I went for it. I spent the last six months preparing to leave my hometown, my family, and my dog. And now, here I am in Florence, Italy for the next three months.
Preparing to leave for the trip took a good amount of time. UMass Dartmouth’s study abroad advisor was a huge help during the whole process. She was there to answer any questions and concerns I had. The program I chose to go through was API. The advisors in the program were also very helpful and understanding when it came to delays in certain paperwork, such as waiting for a passport to come in the mail or a visa appointment at a later date than expected.
One of my main fears was finding friends since I was going alone. Thankfully, API made it easy to connect with other students from all around the United States that were also going. I ended up finding a great group of students to room with and even more friends when I arrived. My second fear was the airline loosing my luggage; this fear unfortunately came true. Luckily, my program helped me put in a lost baggage claim and I ended up getting the luggage delivered to me less than 48 hours later.
Going through each airport was easier than I originally expected. I had a connecting flight; Boston to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Florence. My parents dropped me off right at my gate, so it was simple to check in my bags and go through security. I ended up meeting one of my roommates, Tim, at the airport and we boarded both planes together. Boarding the plane was not hard and I had prior experience doing so. The first flight was 8 hours and once we landed in Germany there was a worker holding a sign that said FLORENCE right as I stepped off the plane. They checked my boarding pass and brought me directly to the next gate. At that gate Tim and I met up with two of our other roommates. We all took the same plane to Florence. Once I finally landed in Italy, my program provided me transportation directly to the place I was staying.
Now that I was here, I was most looking forward to eating and walking around my new city. The food did not disappoint; amazing pasta, meats, and cheese! When walking around and sightseeing the buildings were so beautiful and unreal. My apartment has a great view of the Duomo.
I have now been here for a week and everything is going well. I started my classes and I am getting to know the area well. Definitely was not prepared for all the walking; about 6-7 miles daily! My friends are fun and we all get along. Overall my departure was great and I am excited for what is to come.
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