Photography by Brianne Lee

Photography by Brianne Lee

Ciao Firenze!

Friday, January 31, 2014

I’ve spent the past year announcing to friends, family and acquaintances that I will be spending a semester in Florence. Each reaction is the same: “Oh, you’re going to love it!” Their reactions were perfectly reassuring that I would have an amazing adventure ahead.

I’ve been told the food is great. I’ve been told the lifestyles are different from Americans. I’ve been told about the inspiring art. I’ve been told about pick-pocketers. I’ve been told about the magnificence of the ancient structures and buildings. I’ve been told about the claustrophobic atmosphere of the busy city life in Florence. I’ve been told about the magic of the atmosphere. I’ve been told to carry change because sometimes it’s necessary for the toilets. I’ve been told to remember that I’m there to “study.” I’ve been told that studying abroad is life changing. I’ve been told that homesickness will set in. I’ve been told…

Now all that aside, I want to claim this experience as my own. I’m doing my best to clear all preconceived notions and taking each moment as they come to me.

So just to reassure all who are reading this (namely my parents who are probably quite worried about me), here I am, in Florence! I have arrived safely, but not in the most peaceful manner. Meg and I had to deal with multiply flight cancelations, delays and a not so happy moment when we thought there would be yet another cancelation which would have meant sleeping in Germany for the night and missing orientation. Luckily there were other students from our school at our gate who were in the same position as us. We quickly made friends, after realizing that their quizzical looks mirrored our own.

So after too many hours of airports, airplanes and no sleep, I am currently settled quite nicely into my new - very Italian styled - apartment. I’ll be honest, I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I’m officially here for the next four months. Some people said that once my bags were packed, it would begin to register. Others assured me as soon as I was watching the States drift away from the plane window, it would start to sink in. Mostly everyone agreed that by the time I actually stepped out of the airport in Italy, it would really hit me. But no! I still feel like I’m on a vacation, and am fully expecting someone to walk through my apartment door, tell me this was just some sort of prank and that it’s time to go home.

 The transition has happened and my expectations are now merging with reality. The Vespa’s whiz around me, people are yelling in a foreign language and each cobblestoned street has its own personality. So far, my stay in Florence has showed me that each day is better than the last. With a seemingly infinite amount of museums to explore, wine to drink, and mouth watering food to stuff yourself silly with, I’m excited to say that there is so much more that awaits. I knew I was going to like the place, since I find enjoyment in anything that is new. This was going to be quite the vacation. But wait, this was not a vacation. And thus began the second transition in my first few days here: the mental transition from a “vacation” in Florence to a “lifestyle” in Firenze. Florence, you are one sweet piece of Medieval and Renaissance beauty and I cannot wait to continue to discover all that you are.

Thank you to all who have supported and encouraged me this past year as I have prepared for this incredible experience. I feel so blessed to have this amazing opportunity.

P.S. I apologize for my lack of photos thus far. It has been nonstop raining practically from the second we got here. But not to worry, there will be plenty to come. (:

My Great Escape

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Awaking this morning, I am hit with the sudden realization that my life is about to be turned upside down. In a mere 5 hours, I will be boarding a plane bound for Italy; my new home for the next four months.

I turn on Mike Dignams’ song, Great Escape, as I get ready for the day.
The lyrics echo my inner thoughts.

So I'm gonna pack my things and go,
travel the world before I'm old.
I'll send you photos in the post,
to capture the moments I love the most.

Bags packed, passport in hand, and one more goodbye said to my pets then it’s off to the airport.


I want to climb up mountains,
drink from natures fountain,
who knows what I'll do on my way.

Hugs and goodbyes to loved ones are exchanged before I make my way through airport security, an obligatory stop for coffee, and finally to my terminal.

I want to be lost in transit,
Find love in a different language,
Who knows who I'll meet on my way.

 “We are now boarding passengers seated in zone 2,” a voice announces overhead.
 Butterflies erupt in my stomach as I stride down the jetway.

Seated by the window, I glance out at the familiar terrain before me; the plane begins to rev up its’ engine as it moves towards the runway.

Now I'm sure this is what I needed,
Space to roam, be completely free.

Then, there it is; the moment the wheels of the plane leave the ground. My stomach drops. I close my eyes. My journey has begun; I’m finally on my way.

This is my great escape.

If you’re a bird, be an early bird

Thursday, January 9, 2014

“Early bird

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.”
-Shel Silverstein

Over the years, I have come to terms with the fact I have never been, nor will I never be, a night owl. While some of my friends find their most productive and active time of the day to be after midnight, I find myself to be the most lively and creative in the wee hours of the morning. 

There's something in the air in the early morning. I don't know if it's the quiet or if it's the cold. I don't know if it's the idea that the sun hasn't yet risen, let alone your roommates or neighbors, or it it's the idea that each new day holds an infinite amount of possibilities.  

I guess I just love the feeling of being up before the world starts to move. When no one is out and about. Maybe it is because I love to watch the sun rise or maybe it is because I can hardly wait for a day to start that will be full of new adventures and exciting things to accomplish. Maybe it's simply how I view time. Waking up early means I can make the best use of it and that I will have extra time to do what needs to be done.

 All in all, some of us are early birds, some of us are night owls. Neither is better than the other. Night owls simply love the night time, but greet the day with less than enthusiasm. Early birds thrive in the morning and don't mind going to bed before 10. (Really, we actually enjoy it!) 

So wake up. Seize the day. Go to bed. Repeat.

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