As I watched crew members remove my suitcase from the airplane just before departing for Florence, I knew I was in for a treat. There is no way I’m starting my time abroad without my bag, I thought. Surely, that wasn’t actually my bag!
My hour-long flight from Vienna to Florence felt like a lifetime. I had been fantasizing about stepping foot in Florence for the past six months, and the time was finally here. The plane landed, and suddenly, my excitement and anticipation came to a pause— I felt at ease. I felt at home.
And then we got to baggage claim. And I was, in fact, not at home. And all of my home that I brought with me was still in Vienna.
I know what you’re thinking: Cristina, you started this blog saying you saw them take your bag out of the plane. Why are you shocked? And to that, I say a girl can dream! My parents and I stayed in the Florence airport for four hours to file a lost bag report (hundreds of other bags were also removed from the flight). We were told the bag might come in the next day, the one after, or maybe by the end of the week. Long story longer, we made it to our hotel around 10:00 pm, had a lovely dinner, and called it a night.
The next day was Tuesday (one day before my official CET move-in), and even without my clothing, I couldn’t wait to explore Florence with my parents. We walked outside and were immediately greeted by the pouring rain! Half of me was upset; the other half had a good chuckle. In high school, my English teacher had us read a book called How to Read Literature Like a Professor. I now view rain at ironic times as a moment of renewal or rebirth. Honestly, I think this was Florence’s way of giving me a welcoming ceremony or was trying to shower me with love. And guess what? My bag came in later that afternoon— so my slightly chaotic beginning was just another story I got to tell.
I was too exhilarated to sleep that night (like that feeling you had when you were a kid the night before a field trip). Wednesday morning rolled around, and my parents and I were at CET at 9:30 am. Upon meeting all the lovely leaders of this program, my jittery excitement dissipated again. I felt comfortable and safe (this time knowing I had all my stuff), and I knew this would be the best four months of my life.
Fast forward to almost three weeks later, that feeling of happiness and peace is still overwhelming. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this program, and every day, I wake up more grateful than the one before. In the fall semester, the Florence program is small, creating a wonderful place to make friends both in and outside the classroom. It also allows for stronger connections between us students and the staff. I almost feel like a freshman in college where I’ve taken every day to meet someone or try something new, and I’m constantly saying yes to everything!
This is a photo of where my communication class was held last Thursday. The day was perfect, and that square never gets old.
CET also has many opportunities to immerse yourself in the city’s culture, both within classes and just for fun. Not even a month in, I’ve been to two gorgeous museums, done two walking tours of the city, received samples from the Mercato Centrale, visited a winery, gone on a walking gelato tour, and even explored a cave and the city of Lucca with CET— with so many more activities to come! CET creates constant chances to take advantage of Florence.
I’m also incredibly lucky that I get to explore so much of what CET offers with my amazing roommates. We’ve been attached at the hip— all of us excited to make the most out of our time abroad. It’s been wonderful to have such amazing women by my side, who, although we met not too long ago, I feel like I’ve known them forever. That feeling comes in handy whenever I’m a tad homesick. Although I’m still in my honeymoon phase in this beautiful city, sometimes I think a little too much about a Chipotle burrito bowl. I will say, though, those burrito bowls have nothing on a sandwich from Pino’s J.
Speaking of food, a fun fact about myself is I don’t know how to cook— thanks, mom! I’m kidding; my mom is the best cook I know. I just never had the knack for finding my way around a kitchen. Fortunately for me, as if I hadn’t already won the roommate lottery in terms of personalities, these amazing ladies are all chefs. They’re teaching me slowly, but my first lesson involved me burning a grilled cheese. It looked a little icky, but the crunch was fantastic!
My roommates and me on the way to our first day of classes.
I can’t wait to share more about my classes and experiences with you all, and hopefully I’ll be able to throw in some of my (improved) meal creations, too! Florence may have given me a slightly rocky start, but for any of my theater people out there— you know what they say about a bad dress rehearsal? It leads to a great opening night. And in this case, an amazing, action-packed study abroad adventure.
This is a photo of what I get to walk through every day. My favorite view now and forever.