Photos by Nicole Cox, (Vanderbilt University) Student Correspondent CET Florence, Spring 2019 Every once in a while, Florence has free museum days so you can visit different museums across the city completely free. I would highly recommend doing this, it saves a lot of money, but go super early because the lines get crazy. We got to see the Galleria degli Uffizi, David in the Galleria dell’Accademia, and many more! One thing that I didn’t expect when coming to Italy was just how many photos of ceilings I would take. Pretty ceilings are everywhere here… be careful or your phone might just fill up with only photos of gorgeous ceilings. My friend from Vanderbilt came to visit me over her spring break (perks of having friends who study abroad) and we took a weekend trip to Venice. The entire city was so beautiful; you never stop finding bridges with nice views. Of course we had to take the classic gondola ride. Pretty expensive but either go with lots of friends or find people there and it’s not too bad. It was so relaxing and beautiful to see Venice from a different perspective! My latest obsession is Italian bookstores. There are so many more here than in the US, and reading books in Italian is a great way to improve your vocabulary. This is a lovely bookstore in Venice, but I also frequent La Fetrinelli and IBS + Libraccio in Florence, often purchasing from the 2€ section (to be determined if I am able to bring back all 19 books in Italian that I’ve bought so far). For spring break, I had to take a train to Pisa early in the morning (RyanAir has cheap flights from Pisa, so many students use this to get around Europe for cheap). I’ve never seen the streets in Florence more empty, it was so peaceful and pleasant to be able to walk at my own pace for once. I would highly recommend exploring the city in the super early morning if you’re a morning person. First stop for Spring Break was to Malta. One of my goals of studying abroad was to do a solo trip, so I decided to go to Malta on my own. It was definitely a good growing experience for me and I even met some awesome people while standup paddleboarding and snorkeling in this beautiful bay. Next stop was Paris with my roommate! The city is incredible but much larger than Florence. Despite the Eiffel Tower being very hyped up, it still surpassed my expectations. Being somewhere with a different language also messed with my head, both my roommate and I accidentally said “grazie” a few times. Paris food was delicious, lots of yummy crepes and pastries, and surprisingly lots of good Asian restaurants. Florence is definitely lacking in the Asian food, but I’ve learned to cook various dishes for myself. We also learned that it is pretty difficult to be a vegetarian in Paris, my roommate is grateful for how easy it is to be in Italy with dietary restrictions. After a week of traveling, it was a relief to come back home to Florence. I love seeing other countries, but Italy has felt like home in a way that no other country has. I’m already so sad that I have to leave in less than 2 months.