Packing for Florence, studying abroad begins

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Flag_map_of_Italy_with_regionsOne thing that I just learned about myself is that I am extremely persistent, but also very cautious, and I will explain why. While writing this article, I felt that it did not have enough content and so I began scanning through my old “Mind of a Freshman” articles for some inspiration. I came across one article titled “An International Experience”, where I reminisced about all of the possible ways that I could end up abroad for a semester while in college. I imagined studying abroad, completing a co-op abroad, or travelling during winter break or Spring break. Little did I know that I would be going through more than one of these experiences throughout my college career. Last Spring, I spent a semester on co-op in Cambridge, MA. I guess you can consider that my warm up trip for this Spring. It took me three years since writing that article as a freshman, a lot of research, and quite a few persuading conversations with my mother to finally be where I am today: packing for a study abroad in Florence!
Packing. That word has been in just about every other sentence that I’ve said out loud for the past two weeks, and to be honest, I have yet to pack anything. The closest that I’ve come to packing is making a very lengthy checklist for myself. This checklist includes things that I need to haul around in a luggage through airports and things that I should just buy once I’m settled in my home-away-from-home for the next three and a half months. So many other small tasks and trips over winter break have unexpectedly devoured all of my time. Attaining my visa was one task that I did not imagine would be so time consuming. From collecting all of the necessary documentation to taking two trips to the consulate in New York, the process was nothing like what I expected it to be. I am happy to say that the process was successfully completed though. My new visa photo looks just as dull as everyone else’s recent government-issued IDs, in which no one is allowed to smile.
My visa photo is not at all a testament to my feelings about this very fast approaching trip, though. All of the preparations for my study abroad semester are causing me to feel just as I did right before starting my freshman year of college: tremendously excited, and also a bit nervous. It’s a nice change of pace from the alternating academic and co-op cycle that I have been going through for the past two and a half years. Not only will this experience be different because I’ll be studying abroad, but also because my coursework will have nothing to do with engineering. All of my classes will be focused on international business. In addition to that, Florence is known for its art, culture, and politics, so I will certainly be learning a great deal beyond the classroom as well.
Everyone who has heard about my upcoming trip has had some comment about how excited I must be. With that, I am surprised that no one has asked me what I am most excited for. In a way, I am glad that they haven’t. That is because the first thing that comes to mind is the fresh mozzarella and amazing bread that are sure to send me back to the U.S. a few pounds heavier! I haven’t found out details about whether there is a school gym yet, but I do know that I will be living just a couple of blocks away from the Arno River. Hopefully that will inspire me to go for some nice Spring runs! That being said, I now have an item to add to my packing list: sneakers. Hopefully, I won’t forget anything important here in New Jersey, but if I do, I’m sure you’ll hear about it in next week’s article, when I’ll be writing from Florence!