Floridian to Florentine: My First Days Abroad

Kathryn Holt is a student at the Mississippi State University and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy

I left my sunny Floridian home on a Wednesday afternoon to embark on my latest adventure: a six-week study abroad in Italy. After landing in Rome, we got a tour of the city in addition to our two days of ISA orientation. From there, we took a bus to Florence.

The time difference between Italy and home is quite a few hours, but the adjustment was easy as the first few days of travel left me exhausted by the end of the day. Even though I was exhausted, I had a hard time sleeping those first few nights in Italy. Everything around me was unfamiliar and honestly, I just wanted to talk with my family.

I woke up the morning of the second day of classes and just laid in bed for a while. My class wasn’t until the afternoon, all my family and friends back home were still sleeping, and I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do until class.

I wandered out of bed and downstairs to eat a quick breakfast before getting ready for the day. It felt strange not having somewhere to rush off to, as I did nearly every day at home. Slowing down has always been difficult for me and this was a true test.

Not wanting to sit around in my apartment all morning, I remembered a café I passed while exploring the day before and decided to find it.

Getting ready to leave, I looked up in the mirror and sighed. I thought this adventure would be a non-stop smile fest that only went up. I wasn’t smiling, though. I was happy to be in Italy, but what was so fun about going to explore a new city by yourself?

Determined to get outside and explore, I threw on my sunglasses to hide the disappointment in my eyes and set out to find this café.

A short walk later, I stumbled upon the café I was looking for. A crowded place, I waited in line and perused the menu. I decided on a caffé latte, an Italian staple, and a croissant. As I made my way to the front of the line, my eyes fell upon a sticker placed on the back of the register and a smile drew across my face.

“Everything will be ok” the sticker read.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Where you are, who you are, who you meet; all have a purpose.  I am supposed to be in Italy. And I was supposed to be in that café. I was supposed to see that sticker. That was my sign.

Everything will be ok. A simple sentence, yet something we all need to remind ourselves of from time to time. Life gets overwhelming and particularly so when you are in a new country, finding your way around a new city. Gently remind yourself that even in the most trying moments, everything will be okay.

Here are a few tips to help you if you are missing home during your time abroad:

1.) Bring some of your favorite photos of your family, friends, and pets to put up in your room. It is good to see familiar faces when you are away from home.

2.) Remember it is okay to miss your family and your home! You can miss something while still enjoying a new place.

3.)  If you have a cool spot you like to sit and read or write or simply relax at home, consider finding a spot in your new city! In Florence there are cafés and piazzas everywhere, all good spots to sit and chill for a while.

If you are in Florence and need a sign that everything will be okay, stop by Shake Café (located at Via del Corso, 28) for coffee, pastries, salads, and wraps. They have lots of yummy vegan and vegetarian options too.

Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits. 

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