If you know the song this title refers to we are best friends for life. If not here it is for your listening pleasure:
Listening to Brand New is not the point of this post, but a semester abroad is. I had the pleasure of going to live in Florence, Italy for 5 weeks exactly 2 years ago. Let me tell you, it was the most magical time of my life.
First off, my study abroad experience was a little different than most. We went to Italy to immerse ourselves into the culture but not necessarily take a class. Understanding, embracing, and loving this new experience. And honestly, it was the most fitting way to seize my roots and understand where my Dad used to cause havoc as a young adult (Oh did I forget to mention that my fathers from that beautiful country?)
The group consisted of 12 very unique, passionate, and loving individuals. When I left they all became family. Being thrown into a foreign country with people you don’t know can solidify “family” status no matter who you are. I honestly felt like I was a cast member of “The Real World: Florence” —
“12 strangers…picked to live in a house….”
Well…you know the rest.
I could not have asked for a more perfect group to go abroad with. Our situation was a little awkward initially. We had been in class with each other for a year but I had not said more than 5 words to each of them throughout the two semesters. Yet, we were going live in such close quarters for an extended period of time. DISCLAIMER: There were 5 girls that had to share ONE BATHROOM. Let’s just say we all got to be VERY comfortable with one another quickly.
There was a phrase that was told to us on our first day being in Florence:
Fare Bella Figura
To make a good impression. This was the saying in Florence. Jeff and I later got this tattooed on us to remember this time. We all embraced this to the fullest our entire trip. We wanted to leave an imprint of ourselves in this city. Make a good impression and soak in this incredible opportunity we had.
The amount of times we spent in the boys apartment drinking bottles of wine, or going to Red Garter and dancing to Don Omar’s “Danza Kuduro” made this trip unforgettable. If any of you are reading this now, Crystals birthday. I have videos.
But besides reminiscing on the past, I want to talk about 3 of those family members that are still some of my closest friends to date.
These 3 hold a very special place of my heart. The one that swells when I think about the last time I saw my family in Italy, because they were there. When I think about sitting on the beach and soaking in the incredible view from my Zia Amelia’s apartment building. When I think about going out in the town my Dad made his name known (I came to find out he is still loved by many). There will not be many people in my life that I get to share those memories with, and for that, they will forever be some of my favorite people in the world.
If it weren’t for me putting myself out there and embracing the unknown, I would have never met them. I would have never had the chance to party with them on the beach with my cousin Alessandra or go experience seeing my cousins clothing line at the Pitti Uomo. Coming back to the states, Jeff would have never taught me how to change a car battery and I never would visit Crystal weekly at The Blind Pig (she made the best shots). All in all, stepping out of my bubble made me meet people that changed my life for the better.
The reason I am rambling on about my experience in another country is because I feel that everyone some time in their life needs to get up and go somewhere foreign. When I say foreign, that doesn’t necessarily mean another country. It means pick up and go somewhere completely unbeknownst to you. I have had the pleasure of living in many places in my life and it is the most thrilling thing in the world going somewhere new. The anticipation of meeting new people and experiencing new things is my drug, my favorite high.
I feel as though when you break out of your comfort zone and try new things you tap into a part of yourself you would have never otherwise experienced.
While in Italy, I found out that I actually love to hike and climb. We had this amazing opportunity to hike all the way up to the top of Fiesole to look over the hills and see the entire city of Florence. I hated almost every minute of the steep, prickly, mosquito swarmed, treck, but when we reached the top — I can never explain how my breath was taken away when looking at the beauty of the city. Or when we climbed 125 steps to Monterosso this little city that had the most delicious gelato and tiniest shops. I live for moments of struggle and near defeat, that lead to pure satisfaction. That is why hiking and climbing are something I crave. I hope to someday do some amazing hike, with friends or loved ones, that will have a lasting memory as these two experiences did.
I am nowhere near places I would like to venture to. Heck, I haven’t been to that many outside of the United States, but my life goal is to live. Live in a way that is something inspiring and adventurous. One that my future children will want to.
I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone. Get into an awkward situation, be apprehensive, fall down, get back up, and just embrace everything you can in life.
Make a good impression, leave an imprint, and live life to the fullest. It’s the only way to do it.