As March comes to a close, I will now be starting my final month abroad. It blows my mind thinking that I’ve been here for almost three months, and as my days in Europe tick away, I know the flight home on April 29th will be bitter sweet. I have visited countries and cities I never thought I would have the opportunity to travel to, I have learned Italian, bits and pieces of German and French, and I have had the opportunity to experience new cultures and customs from a first person lens. I have seen beautiful ancient churches and castles, and I have explored the same uneven cobblestone streets that artists like Michael Angelo and Da Vinci walked when they were my age. I’m so incredibly lucky to have been able to experience this. At the same time, I am excited to be back in the US. Living in Europe has been an unbelievable experience, but it makes you realize little parts of American culture that you took for granted. Things like supermarkets with every single food you could imagine, wide sidewalks, the ability to drive wherever you want, and spacious yards with trees and grass are concepts foreign to cities like Florence, and living without them has made me realize how much I enjoyed these things back in the states.
For my final month abroad, I think I will try to limit my weekend travel, and instead soak up everything Florence has to offer. Even though I am just a study abroad student, I find it funny how after a couple months, the things you found so shocking and foreign about life in Italy when you first arrived now seem common and Florence becomes your home. I have had the opportunity to travel to many countries during my three months abroad, and I think it would be a good idea to spend the last few weeks enjoying my temporary home. (I’m also down to like eight bucks a day so any more traveling is kinda outta the picture hahaha.) Not having much money while traveling isn’t always so bad though. Since I don’t have the funds to eat out all the time, I have been able to find dishes that I like when I do eat out, and then learn the recipes for them online and make them at home which gives me the ability to take Italian culture back to the states. My favorite easy, cheap Italian dish is Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It’s super simple to make. You just boil some spaghetti in one pot, pour a healthy amount of olive oil into another pan over medium heat, throw some thinly sliced garlic and crushed red pepper in the oil, dump the drained pasta into the pan (keep a little bit of the pasta water with it to help form the sauce), salt and pepper to taste and voila. You have a classic Italian dish.
I have learned a lot during my three months abroad. I’ve learned about the history and art of different countries, but more importantly, I have learned how to communicate with people who don’t speak a word of my native language, and still manage to find similarities between the two of us. My trip abroad has been both an adventure and a learning experience, and I hope to continue to have a phenomenal time during my final month abroad.