Why I Think Everyone Should Travel At Least Once (Must Read)

As our time in Indonesia came to an end, one question kept floating around: what is the most important thing you’ve taken away from this trip? Seeing as how the primary reason the group of us had gathered halfway across the world was for academic purposes, I could not say the research we conducted is what would dominate my thoughts when I looked back on my memories of this experience in a few days, months, or years. It was the amazing people I encountered and thoughts and emotions from confronting head-on a culture that seemed to be so far from the one I had known my entire life. While I believe it obnoxious to say this was yet another “eye-opening” experience, it really was.

In my 21 years on this Earth I have been able to travel across both oceans: to Indonesia, Italy, Germany, Greece, Tunisia, Spain, and France to name a few. Even within America I’ve been able to travel to big cities such as Washington D.C., New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. I even managed to make it to Alaska. I can by no means say I have spent an extensive time in all of these locations, enough to lay any claim to know about their culture and history. However, I am extremely thankful for all the people I have been able to meet and beautiful sights I have seen. With an open mind, while traveling you can begin to really understand things a textbook, new article, or television screen could never tell you.

The benefits of travel can spread into both your professional and personal life. Often subconsciously, you’ll gradually begin to understand others’ point of views and perceptions. This is extremely important in problem solving. You can study different theories for countless days and nights, but with so many sides to every situation, I can guarantee you’ll begin to see a unique side of an argument or think of an innovative idea you couldn’t have before. An experience isn’t some slot of information you neatly file away into your mind’s bookshelf of facts, it is something that becomes ingrained in your way of thought and may even play a part in shaping the person you become. More importantly (in my opinion of course), multi-cultural experiences can also benefit your relationships. As we all know, some people can just drive you crazy, and you may or may not just want to pummel them. With the most recent election in America, there has only been an increasing divide between people, quick to dismiss an entire relationship altogether for their political party. On the other hand, in the recent protests we have seen grand acts of unity, with women’s marches on every continent. I am not saying anyone is wrong or right and understand there are plenty of other examples, but I wanted to iterate that if people from thousands of miles away not only share the same beliefs, but are willing to fight for complete strangers, there may be a chance you might be able to relate to that really frustrating coworker of yours.

This post went a bit more philosophical than usual, but I really do believe it is important that everyone experience some kind of travel at least once in their life. It doesn’t have to be abroad, but I believe experiencing another culture to be absolutely imperative. This can be by yourself or with one or several companions, however, I am bit biased to the individual option as I believe that will give you the greatest opportunity for self-growth and reflection. Sure, there are bound to be some ups and downs (trust me, I know), but also believe me when I say you won’t regret it. If you’re anything like me, it’ll just leave you counting down the days until your next adventure.

So go save for that trip to Europe you’ve always wanted, go camping in the mountains, heck, even just drive to the next state over just to see what life is like beyond your own backyard. Just go somewhere.

Plane Ride Thoughts & The Long Awaited Photos

Unfortunately, I am incapable of sleeping well on a plane, despite my recent habit of napping instead of actually sleeping these last few days. Fortunately, that leaves plenty of time to attempt a coherent blogging experience. I will continue with my descent into Kota Tua, but as Indonesia was my first visit to a developing country, I would like to first list the things I found the strangest/most interesting about Indonesian culture:

Fun facts about Indonesia

  1. Tissues are an all-purpose material. They are used as napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissues
  2. Toilets are quite strange (as you know)
  3. Lines on the street are largely ignored
    1. I would not recommend driving
  4. They snack all the time – huge fan
  5. The people are not fans of walking everywhere (understandable,I also dislike melting)
  6. There aren’t many crosswalks, so if you want to cross the street you place your palm out to your side so that the cars will stop
    1. I like to exclaim “The Almighty Palm Raise!” while performing this activity
    2. Works for the most part, but there are some people who do not care (learned this the hard way)
  7. They wave your bags with metal detectors upon entering malls and tie your bags in supermarkets as a shoplifting precaution
    1. This doesn’t really apply to foreigners or it could also be the face of eternal confusion I wore over the first few days
  8. They love taking pictures of white people
    1. Some Indonesians are too poor to be able to travel, so they enjoy taking photos with foreigners. Quite frequently I may add
    2. No matter what you do, if you are light-skinned, you WILL stand out
  9. They don’t use knives; you will customarily be served a spoon & fork
  10. Everyone wears jackets and jeans despite it being 10 million degrees outside
    1. The deodorant market must be wildly successful
  11. The people are some of the most hospitable beings I’ve ever met
  12. Primary religion is Islam so I’d reconsider wearing those spaghetti straps ladies
  13. Their ginger beer and guava juice are amazing
  14. Breakfast is normally meats and rice and veggies versus eggs and cereal
  15. They are big fans of spicy food

*disclaimer: I am no Indonesian expert and speak based on my experience in the Java region.

Kota Tua and the night my phone ran away

Monday we were introduced to our groups and the topics we would be addressing in our joint studio workshop the next week and a half. However, before any research was to be done, we took a tour in the historic section – and poorer –  of Jakarta and I will be honest, a lot of our tour was not pretty, but it is important to keep an open mind and put aside your Western way of thinking. I will also note that my outfit while cute and still fairly light and airy, did not save me from the real-world sauna session I was to soon experience. I don’t believe even Tarzan’s loin cloth would have provided him any relief from the heat – were he a) real and b) had a craving for Indonesian food.

Anyhow, after a train ride into the we arrived in an open square where after noticing a few boys staring at my unfortunately rather pale skin, experienced my first photo request. Assuming they wanted Iliana and I to take a photo of them, I became quote baffled when the boy didn’t hand us the phone and instead kept incessantly waving his hand. Thankfully, one of the Indonesian students pulled my incompetent self to the side and explained things to me while Iliana happily posed for her glamour shot. The group itself looked quite suspicious itself as we were a relatively large group of people consisting of Indonesians, Chinese, Americans, British, and a Colombian (our dear Iliana). We were essentially a beacon of nonconformity. Likely blinded by the abnormal amount of light skin in our group – I like to imagine some of us with lighter skin were sparkling in the sun like the vampires from Twilight – we were approached by the local tourist/government agency thing who ran tours of the Jakarta History Museum who invited us inside to give a brief presentation. The presentation was of course accompanied by cute snack boxes and then two of the guides joined our tour group, giving us easier access to certain areas of historic/public significance. We encountered many guards along our journey, and if my tired mind recalls correctly, they were there to protect certain public buildings from street vandalizers/hoodlums/whippersnappers or whatever term fits your fancy.

Two main things stood out on this tour: 1) the stark contrast in buildings and b) the trash. When looking at a panorama or simply walking throughout the city you could see skyscrapers, old Dutch colonial buildings, and “informal” buildings of the slums all in one glance. Don’t worry, the center of the city is quite nice, but this area was just as much an important, if not a more significant, face of the city. The most notable part of the tour was the trash. With a little imagination, one could see how the old part of the city was once dominated by a beautiful canal system, with streets bustling with goods coming in from the Harbor and far lands beyond. Today, sadly the water is full of trash, multiple mounds of trash forming walls to block the continuous flow of the river. There is so much trash in the water, there are even people who live on the trash. This would cause any person lucky enough to be born in a more developed part of the world take another look at their own lives and how many things we take for granted. Long our tour we also visited some Kampungs along the water’s edge. The community we visited was fairly separated from the main streets of the city and lined a slightly cleaner body of water (likely due to the community’s efforts) on a fairly wide street filled with people of all ages. There was a very basic ferry system allowing for transport across the river by a simple raft and rope connecting the two sides. I found the skill of the residents quite impressive. There had recently been a project where the community worked with UI to improve their streets by moving back their homes 5 feet (themselves) and paint some of their homes to create a more pleasant environment. Some people with my background may find the neighborhoods to have a poor quality of life, but I found these areas quite pleasant. The people obviously cared about one another and the lives they had quite literally built for themselves.

After much walking we ended the night in a nice restaurant on the street near the plaza. You can also get a tattoo on the quite non-sterile street if you prefer to live your life on the edge. Then came a long train ride home where many of us were trying to cope with the jet lag coma threatening to take over. You may be wondering if my phone had abandoned me yet, as pick pocketing is not that uncommon in the area we visited. However, my phone had not abandoned me yet. Unfortunately, this still means I do not have any pictures of my own from this day, but I did manage to snag a few from other’s phones and cameras:

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The woman next to me on the plane is gradually nudging my arm off the rest so I will attempt to make the rest of this brief. Iliana and I went to the mall once again, since our suitcases were still being held hostage by the airline. It was upon our return home in a taxi that my phone left me for another. I had gotten out of the cab and had maybe walked ten steps when I realized I did not have my phone. I twirled myself around only to watch as the taxi drove off, too far to have a dramatic movie moment in which I would sprint and thrust myself onto the trunk of the taxi man’s car. After my dramatic experience with the front desk who likely only understood half of what I was even saying, I also realized in horror I had been lucky enough to get a taxi driver who did not give us a receipt and as a result I had no way of knowing who had my phone. So if you ride on a taxi make sure to note the taxi number, the name of the driver, and for goodness sake always ask for a receipt.

To avoid ailing myself with permanent carpal tunnel, I will cut off here. In the next installment of my wonderful Indonesia trip that was so far kicking me firmly in the ass, I will bargain for a new phone and defile an innocent trash can. Until next time, Ciao!

Indonesian Tales & How Not To Be A Petrified American (Part 2)

Hello again, or more simply Hallo! In this next segment, I will enter into the topic of language. Jakarta is not a huge international tourist destination and as a result, not many people speak English. This makes for some very frustrating experiences, luckily for you, they will probably seem quite amusing.

For instance, we recently just ordered water bottles from room service and just prayed we would actually get water. Most interactions consist of Iliana and I repeating the same two words over and over until the person on the phone just says “okay” or “yes” and hangs up. Sometimes it works, other times not so much. Our door just rang and low and behold we did not get water bottles, but we did get water in a glass so that is something I guess. So as we rolled into the department store, you could already see the staff become very nervous. At first, I was very worried they don’t enjoy you taking your time to browse and perhaps that is a rude custom, but I was later told people of light skin are very rare, so we are seen as intimidating or almost celebrities. Of course, I thought everyone was either terrified or angry with me the entire experience. At the very least they were quite flustered. Initially, the staff would approach me (very politely I may add) and ask if I needed help with something, but they all slowly became aware my spoiled American self can only speak English. The whole thing seemed to turn into a dance. They wanted the nice rich foreigner to come buy all of their things, yet at the same time they did not want to try to awkwardly speak with me in what seemed a continuous game of charades where all the players are drunk. Eventually, the employees had a strained smile on their face when approaching me as if we were in the Hunger Games and they had just volunteered themselves as tribute. In addition, I had very little sleep since leaving America, leaving huge bags under my eyes and unbrushed hair, giving me the appearance of the Grudge.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention the note method they use. Since the country is so poor, I believe shoplifting can be a real issue so in many places they have measures to make sure that does not happen. In the case of Matahari, they write a note saying what item of clothes you want and the size and they bring the clothing item to the cash register so when you come to check out you can just give them the note. Unfortunately, this was not easily understood. Instead, I was trying to purchase a pair of underwear and after helping me find my giant American size the woman wrote me a note but held my underwear hostage. I just wanted a simple pair of underwear but I would not understand why this woman would not give it back to me like it was some precious cargo. Eventually, someone had to walk with me to the cash register while I eyed my undergarments, afraid they were going to smuggle them away and I’d have to go all out Tarzan and find out how to use a hotel towel as a loin cloth.

After what seemed like several hours, Iliana and I managed to leave with clothes in hand that I can thankfully wear when I return to America.

Day Two – Kota Tua

I awoke early around 6 am after another fitful napping session to go down to “breakfast.” Indonesians don’t really have breakfast food. What I found on the banquet table was variations of rice, potatoes, fried noodles, and some miscellaneous foods I could not identify. I believed I could endure a simple venture such as breakfast without the guidance of Iliana, but I was yet again very wrong. Already feeling drastically out of place, and a natural introvert, I didn’t really want to try to interact with the staff. Like any brave soldier, I hunched my shoulders, aimed my head towards the floor, and grabbed any food I could recognize. Thankfully they seem to be a fan of watermelon and honeydew which I graciously piled onto my plate. I have also discovered Guava juice in my time here and I would describe it as a sweet pink nectar from the gods. America, you need to catch up. One other prevalent drink item they have here is bubble tea which I have enjoyed every single day as a metaphorical tie to home. Ironically, it is derived from east Asia, but it reminds me of my many ventures to Lollicup in Gainesville.

Anyhoo, all of the students and professors from Florida and the University of Cardiff gathered together in the hotel lobby and made our way to the University of Indonesia or locally known as UI (pronounced “000 – ee” as in the word boo and bee)….

Anddddd it is time for me to head to sleep now (sorry!), a long day of walking ahead of us tomorrow, but I promise the next post will have MANY pictures. For now, I will add a few from today’s earlier visit to the city center with the very generous Taufik who is probably more sleep-deprived than Iliana and I yet still took us all around Jakarta. Ciao!

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Indonesian Tales & How Not To Be A Petrified American Abroad (Part 1)

Good Morning World!

I apologize for the delayed response, but welcome back to the roller coaster that is my life! There has been SO MUCH happening, yet very little sleep or time to even write about it. I had initially intended to write last night as promised, but I’m afraid once I laid down in bed I immediately fell asleep clothes and all with my laptop open beside me. I will be leaving to go to the city center of Jakarta in a little over an hour so I will do my best to write as much as I can now. These blog posts will likely have to be written in many parts not only because of how much has happened, but also due to how wildly different this culture is in comparison to the Western world and I feel the need to share as much as I can for those who do not have the opportunity to travel as I have so graciously been given. So fear not, I will have plenty to write about, so much I will likely be playing catch up in America. I will warn you, although many of my initial experiences and descriptions may seem negative and horrific, I am actually having a wonderful time, it just may take a few posts to get there.

I suppose I will start the story off chronologically and try not to wander off topic too much…

Arrival at Jakarta Airport

The first thing I experienced after taking my first steps outside into Jakarta was how obscenely hot it was. I felt like I was melting and feared I would be nothing but a shriveled up, raisin-looking version of myself upon return to America. The group (myself, Iliana, Dr. Silver, and Dr. Jerry Murphy) decided to take a bathroom break. Yet NO ONE warned me about the restroom. 1) not all of the stalls are toilets, instead, they look like urinals but in the ground. On campus they also have these types of restrooms although they have a bucket of water and a big spoon thing in which you pour into said hole to naturally flush it. As if this wasn’t horrifying enough, toilet paper is also not a thing. Thankfully they had some at the airport since a more international crowd is likely to use it, but nowhere else will you find toilet paper (excluding the hotel). You may be lucky enough to find a restroom with a toilet on campus, but its a 50/50 chance and I do not enjoy those chances one bit. Now you may be wondering, what do they use in if they have no toilet paper? Fear not, they have a delightful hose with a spray nozzle in which you can “cleanse” yourself. Needless to say I was petrified by my first two experiences in a public restroom and have now become a tissue hoarder. I will advise you – as no one had the decency to do for me before – if you are to visit Indonesia and do not wish to become one with a more primitive version of yourself,  BRING YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER. 

On our way to the airport, I noticed quite a few motorcycles. I cannot tell you how many there are in the Jakarta region, but there has to quite literally be millions. There are scooters everywhere and they all weave in and out of traffic. There are even Uber motorcyclists if you can imagine that. Add on the fact that everyone drives on the opposite side of the road and the lines on the road only appear to be mere suggestions of order, behind the wheel is definitely not some place I would like to be. Unfortunately, due to my lost phone (I will get to that later) I do not have any photos of my initial experience with the crazy amount of motorcycles, but I will attempt to find some from my fellow travelers. For now, I have attached an image of traffic in the late afternoon along the major road on which our hotel sits.

Depok Town Center Shopping Extravaganza

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I briefly mentioned in the last post our luggae did not arrive with us in Jakarta, so Jerry, Iliana, and I went to the strange looking building above that is a mall. Thankfully, this is at least the more affordable mall compared to the massive Margo City across the street (don’t worry that will come later as well). I will start off first by saying across the street under the Margo City mall, there is a supermarket, much like a Walmart, that has everything you could possibly need at a very cheap price. For instance, 3 pair of socks cost about 10,000 rupiah which is roughly $0.75. There are also about 2 floors above the main floor in which are tons of stalls and open areas that kind of function as stores where there is a lot of cheap clothes. We of course, did not choose such an option. Trusting Iliana, who had lived here for 2.5 months over the summer, we entered a department store to purchase clothes for the first couple days we wouldn’t have clothes. This ended up being the scenario for my shoes as well since my 9.5 size feet are a giants foot and by some miracle I found a pair of sandals that fit without having to buy a man’s shoe.

Looks like it is already time to go :/ I will pick up next with the story of I made the store people very nervous and lost my precious iPhone (cries). Hopefully I won’t get back too late today and I’ll give you some more exciting and perhaps over dramatic experiences as well as some philosophical thoughts on my belief that everyone should travel if I get in the mood. Talk to you later, time to see what else Indonesia will throw my way!

Silver Travels (Sh**t Happens in Indonesia)

 

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Riding in my first angkot

I may be smiling in the opening image, but boy Indonesia has taught me far too many lessons in a very short period of time. A lot has happened, but I will try to keep it brief.

 

My journey began on Friday, the day before my flight took off. I woke up with a sore throat, sinus headache, an email from my professor notifying us of a last minute change in our flight itinerary and how our flight was to take a complete detour through Amsterdam instead of Tokyo, and feeling of oncoming doom. Of course, when I checked my flight, my first flight had been canceled and the website kept notifying me they could not find me another flight out. After two hours on hold, 20 email messages, and much panicking, I managed to rebook myself and my fellow student Iliana through the Jacksonville airport.I then spent the rest of the day packing and buying a massive amount of cold medicine to drug myself with in hopes that I could cure myself with a drug-induced coma during my very long flights ahead. By midnight I had managed to finally get a reach of Iliana to pick her up in the morning and my blessing of a friend Aswan agreed to drive me all the way to Jacksonville the following morning. I had everything printed, packed, and prepped, believing I was ready for whatever came my way.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned. In more elegant terms: shit happens (the theme and running joke of this trip so far). Very long story short, all of our flights were delayed, our checked baggage did not make it to  Indonesia with us, and mother nature decided to bless me with her presence during my 14.5-hour flight. And of course, since Jakarta is not a major tourist destination, no one here speaks English very well at all so trying to find out where our luggage was, was one big bundle of joy. From Friday morning to when I stepped foot in Indonesia I had been getting ready and traveling for 62 hours and slept about 10. One would assume I was exhausted, but my body was angry and confused as to why it was not snuggled in my bed as my grandma self normally is at 11 pm, but instead thousands of miles away surrounded by people who either a) have dysfunctional sweat glands or b) don’t understand the concept of heat.

I am still super sleep deprived and my eyelids are already threatening to betray me, but I will give you a brief glimpse into my next post (hopefully tomorrow or Friday) in which I will explain the events which occurred in the following 60 hours:

The Shit (I did):

  • terrified some department store employees
  • had pictures taken with random strangers
  • lost my phone
  • haggled with an airline
  • used a hole as a toilet
  • almost melted
  • bought a new phone
  • realized all the ways I could’ve spent way less money
  • lost all the photos I took in the first few days
  • rode in a very tiny van with strangers

Strange I’ve learned about Indonesia:

  • toilets and toilet paper are a luxury
  • there are motorbikes EVERYWHERE
  • the clothes here are tiny
  • tissues are the new napkin
  • white people are celebrities
  • the people here are tiny
  • no one flipping speaks English
  • the cars here are tiny
  • my whiteness is intimidating
  • I am a giant
  • Indonesians are some of the politest people on the planet
  • They may also be aliens who don’t feel heat
  • And the power of the almighty Palm Raise

I will also mention the lessons myself and my fellow companions have learned so far so you shall never be as dumb as us.

Hopefully, at least one of those beautiful options has caught your attention. Catch you next time!

Home Reflections (and un-posted photos)

Ciao!

Or I suppose “hello” since I am back in the home of the free. It has been about 2 weeks since I have returned home from Europe and while I miss the food the most I think I have lost at least 8 pounds since I came home. I do miss parts of Italy, but since I’ve only been home for a week i am still enjoying being home and seeing my friends and getting the chance to eat at my favorite restaurant IHOP (I know, I’m classy).

I wanted to go through some of my old photos – and maybe just some funny ones just for kicks – that I don’t think I ever got a chance to post and make a few comments about each one of them so I know I’ve covered all my bases. If I have already posted some of them…whoops:

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I’m pretty sure I’ve already posted these two but I just wanted to reiterate how adorable these Easter bunnies were at the mall in Dresden, Germany ^-^ They should haver these in every mall, no every home. Talk about stress relievers.

IMG_8097 from the coffee shop in Frankfurt Oder near Jonas’s apartment. I took this photo because I always find myself conflicted between “i’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “I’m going to sleep forever.” There isn’t much of an in between.

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These are some photos of when I went to the Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli) in Florence with Olivia and her brother Giovanni. I seem to have lost the picture, but upon walking in through the main gates of the Pitti Palace there is a main stairwell and if you walk all the way to the top of there is a small garden looking out onto the Tuscan country side and if you ever get the chance to go here, even if you only go inside for five minutes, walking to the top is a must. There are other little museums – such as the costume museum and antique chinaware museum – and a few more hills to explore but we didn’t really get the chance to visit any of those since we were so busy enjoying GRASS. After traveling through so many cities, grass was a rare citing and we laid on it for at least a solid hour just chatting which I think was its own unique way of enjoying the garden that I’m quite satisfied with.

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I wish I had taken more photos of these, but they are all over major European cities. There are especially a lot in Firenze. I cannot remember the name of the artist, but basically he decorates a lot of signs like these in many many creative and humorous ways. As you can tell with this stop sign.

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This is an image of one of the few family dinners the four of use had – Shannon, Maria, Elisa, and I – where each of us made a course to contribute to dinner and I have to say they were always quite yummy and filling for a dinner made by us mediocre chefs. And yes that giant white bowl is filled with pasta.

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and here is a funny photo of a potato ^-^

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Here are some photos of the Bargello National Museum. I just never really found the time or motivation to go to the many museums in Florence, but when Jonas came down he did not have the desire either so I know I’m not the only one. I enjoy museums for their strange statues and their poses pretty much.

I think thats about it for now, until next time(?).

Ciao!!!!

My Italy Trip Entry 34: Last Day in Firenze (trying not to tear up)

I figured since I am at Frankfurt awaiting my flight back to the States, I should talk about my last day in Florence (I’ll periodically post my other travels I never caught up to over the summer).

I am very happy with my last day in Florence. I spent the morning walking around looking for a Florence tank top – actually very difficult, they are not very big on tank tops unless you love Jack Daniels for some reason – and a small coin purse to remember Florence by. It was beautiful outside and I walked my butt off and of course found my tank top at my very last stop when I was about to give up and get a t-shirt.

Later on I took my Italian exam which wasn’t too bad. Strangely, as I got closer to the end I found myself reverting to English. I think it is because after Spring Break tourist season really kicks up so everyone speaks english to you even if you keep trying to speak to them in Italian-_- After the exam Olivia, Shannon, Maria and I went around to buy a few things for my parents and myself and I was able to practice my negotiation skills – which were not that fantastic.

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I really enjoyed strolling around the city. I didn’t really understand when one of the professors said to view Florence as not good or bad, but simply different. Florence has its pluses and minuses just as America does. Such as the constant feeling of me slowly developing lung cancer due to the insane amount of smoking by the citizens and the constant exhaust from buses and taxis that will almost take your life many times. But the great thing about the city is it is so full of life. The streets will never be dull and empty, someone will always be there living out their life, being a tourist, being a street performer, or just hanging around and socializing with your friends in the piazzas. The city may be old, but it is almost as if there is a constant hum. people are out during both day and night, every night is a night to go out – as the bar beneath our apartment often reminded us in the wee hours of the morning. Also in Florence, the streets are for the people and cars. It is extremely common to just walk in the street if the sidewalk is inconvenient and let the cars drive around you and no one really gets angry in the process.

So after all my philosophical thinking and eating one of my last bars of Milka chocolate in a while and some spaghetti, Shannon, Maria, and I went out to find the Boar in which you are supposed to put a coin in its mouth and rub its shiny snout so that you will be brought back to Florence on day. And afterwards I had my last scoop of gelato sitting on a bench in the Piazza de Repubblica, watching kids ride the ferris wheel, the artists draw masterpieces on the street, and listening to the street performers play their music, talking about life.

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I even agreed to go out to the bar Old Stove with Maria and Shannon later on in the night. They were all surprised, but I was aware it was my last night andI want to spend it the people I bonded the closest to. I spent about 2 hours there just talking with Nikki and Tay before I walked myself home to clean up parts of the apartment before I left at 4am. And in case you are wondering where Elisa is during all this, she left earlier in the week on Sunday so she could be home in time for graduation.

Saying goodbye was kind of horrible since the majority of everyone I met is from New England and I’m very far away in Florida so the chances of us seeing each other again is rare. However, it  did make me happy when I saw how genuinely sad everyone was that I was leaving a couple days early and I know I will never forget them. I am going to copy what I posted on Facebook because there is no better way to say how I feel, and it saves me getting teary-eyed again haha. “As I sit here in the Frankfurt Airport I’m looking back on all the experiences I had while I was in Florence and exploring the world. I had an amazing time and met some equally amazing people along the way. I am so grateful I was able to study abroad and while I am excited to go home, it would be impossible for me to not miss these wonderful people. As my roommateShannon said “there is no one else who has and ever will experience what we have together.” From fine dining to sleeping on floors, we did it all and I hope by some miracle I’ll be able to see you guys again one day. Thank you for making my experience the breathtaking and unforgettable time I could never have dreamed of. I wish everyone safe travels and good luck with everything that comes at you in this crazy world. If we made it through this past semester, I know we can do anything.”

 Study Abroad Collage

There were of course bad times when I was stressed or homesick or uncomfortable and down, but overall when I look at all the places I got to explore and even if i didn’t become close friends with everyone I met, I still was able to meet a lot. It really showed me how people can have the same jobs or goals, but live their lives completely differently in their own unique way. There really is no one “right way” and I know I should keep working hard and follow what I am passionate about. If it goes against “the plan” maybe it was time to change it anyway. I really did have an amazing time and I cannot wait to take a rest for a bit. I am so glad I got the experience to go aborad. If you’re ever unsure or scared or even just thinking it may be a possibility do it, go somewhere, even if it is just the state over. Experiencing a new culture does not mean accepting it or forgetting your own. So I hope you travel, live your hardest, and be brave enough to do crazy things that may not work out.

Ciao Firenze,cerchiamo di incontrare di nuovo; Goodbye Florence, let us meet again.