Samantha Philbrick is a student at University of New Hampshire and an ISA Featured Blogger. Samantha is currently studying abroad program in Florence on an ISA Fall 1 program.
I sat on the bus to Florence nervously tapping my foot for the four hour bus ride. Would I like it? Would I feel safe? Would my apartment be OK? Would I like my roomies? Would I be able to find my classes? Would it be clean? Would I like it?
Most importantly: Would it feel like home?
I had such huge expectations. In my mind, the city encompassed and stood for everything I loved and had a passion for in my life. The capitol of fashion, food, art, history, architecture, creation and innovation, and wine. Basically me, in a nutshell.
But on the bus I had my doubts. I liked Rome a lot, where we went for a three day orientation first. We saw the Trevi Fountain, The Vatican City, The Colosseum…everything! It was mind blowing and beautiful, and yet I never really felt at home (living out of a suitcase didn’t help). I walked through the streets enthralled by the history and the beauty around me but I never felt any desire to live there for a long period of time. A few days, a week, two weeks maybe. But it was loud and big and completely overwhelming. Perfect for some, but coming from Small Town, USA, not exactly the most comforting. The thought was a scary one, did I choose correctly? Could I do this?
Still twitching. Still stressing. Still nervous.
Before I left I told my mom that I thought I would jump up and down/cry/weep/be a mess when I saw the Duomo, when I saw my apartment, when I saw my new life. But my nerves had me really confused.
And then we arrived.
No crying, no screaming, no jumping, no disappointment, no upset, no stress.
I honestly felt completely at peace.
Walking through the city was like taking a huge deep breath of sunshine-y air and letting it out slowly. It was stunning. The shops, the people, the language, the statues, the River, the Duomo… the lifestyle! Everything was beautiful. The smell of garlic wafting out of restaurants, the warm greetings from the locals, the sight of Italians at the coffee bars all talking and laughing together; the whole scene was fascinating.
When I got to my apartment, I realized that I lived right between the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. Five minutes one way and I was at the Arno River, and five minutes the other way I was in the Duomo. Could my life get any BETTER? Oh wait, it could. I also live above a flower shop. So every day when I walk down my front stairs the smell of roses greets me as I rush out the door.
I couldn’t stop smiling. I lugged my two overflowing, uncooperative suitcases and my carry on the size of a small child over cobblestones, down the street, up stairs, down stairs and all the while just looking around with a sense of wonder, love, emotion..and something else.
I felt perfectly at home. And so began my journey through Florence.