Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today is the day. Within the next five hours I will have boarded a plane and will be on my way back to the United States of America! This day is as surreal as the day I arrived. Early this morning the other girls, Mama Lo, and myself say goodbye to my roommate Jenny as she got into her cab and headed to the airport. Looking at the street and seeing the exact place I stood three months ago getting dropped off in a cab, wondering where the hell am I!? In a few hours I will have a new memory of that place as where I said goodbye.

This semester has been one of the most amazing in my entire life. I met so many people, learned so many things, and came into contact with aspects of culture I will never forget. I now have an endless bank of interesting stories and sites I have seen, a plethora of knowledge on things like Donatello or the temperature Pomino Bianco should be served, and connections throughout Europe!

Last night the undergrads met on top of the city at Piazzale Michelangelo to say our goodbyes. Needless to say it was a tiny little cry festival. We have all gotten really close this semester. Yes, as a group of ten girls we have had our ups and downs, but in the end after spending three months thousands of miles away from anyone you love with ten other people in the same situation- you get pretty close. Though we will all see each other in the near future in Harrisonburg, this experience and this city is what ties us all so closely forever. Our little Florentine family-ten sisters!

I am going to miss this place more than I can even grasp at the current moment. Mostly the little things- the cobble stone roads that have nearly broken my ankle fifty times, the bright blue skys, the weeks of rain, the river that we use as a compass, Claire always sitting at the front desk ready to help you with whatever problem you may need to tackle that day, Alessandro's curious looks throughout the Caponi, bargaining at San Lorenzo in Italian, walking everywhere, seeing everything, and especially embracing a new culture and lifestyle. I am going to miss it so much. What a bittersweet feeling. I miss everyone at home and can't wait to get back-but I also never want to leave!

Yesterday I rubbed the snout of Il Porcellino. It is a bronze statue of a boar located in the Mercato Nuovo, and the story is that if you rub its nose you will return to Florence. I can't wait until I do.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Un Settimana!!

This past week was a blink of the eye. Everything is full speed ahead and at this moment in one week I will be getting ready to board a plane back to the United States of America. This experience has flown by, at times felt like parts of it would never end, and now we're approaching the close of our journey. This is scary, exciting, sad, happy..if you have ANY emotion to throw onto the list, do so, because it probably describes how I and the rest of the girls here feel right now.

Now we can focus on the last four days that were filled with classes. museum visits, and as usual-great food! This may have been one of the most 'normal' weeks we have had so far. We are pretty much professionals at being JMU students in Florence at this point- we arrived to classes on time and came prepared, we showed up to museums that we could never have found two months ago when we were asked to, we even knew how to bargain with the locals to knock a few euro off of a shirt we've been eyeing. So as we went in and out of the classroom lectures and visits this week each of us knew this would be one of the last times it would happen in Florence. Knowing that there is only one more week left really gets you to appreciate your experience and forces you to really soak things in. Though some students may feel like if they go into one more museum they may explode, it is a great feeling knowing that you may have been exposed to 'too much' of a good thing(like museums).

Yesterday, we got to go through the inside of the Piti Palace with Professor Sidsel-Vivarelli. She is, hands-down, my favorite art history professor I have had so far. She knows just about everything there is to know about all of the art in Florence and she is so talented at sharing that knowledge with her students. She keeps us all interested, speaks energetically, and with great passion for the subject. She is very encouraging when it comes to exams and papers and she knows exactly to push you a little harder when you have been slacking off. Just wonderful. After our visit to the Piti Palace, where we saw the king's throne and the queen's bedroom, I decided to have a delicious lunch. I went to the market and grabbed some enormous fresh spinach(roots still attached), a hunk of delicious mozzarella, plump red tomatoes, and a bottle of Sangiovese from a wine shop nearby. lunch ever. After stuffing myself with deliciousness and washing it down with a tasty glass of wine I was ready to head to another museum. We were going to the Alinari National Museum of Photography. It was filled with just about everything you might want to know about photography. It had a detailed representation of the history, technical procedures, equipment, cameras, processes, and many examples of work by famous and lesser known photographers. Something that was really interesting was the museum was also set up as a blind exhibit. They had railings and sand paper paths on the floor so a blind person could lead themself around the exhibit. Then below many of the pieces and displays there were replicas made of things that felt similar to how the photograph looked. Either it was a raised representation of someones face, or things like bubble wrap, fur, textured cloths..things of that narture that show how the photo looked. All of the information was written in brail and there was even an audio guide to help inform people. It was really heart warming to see a museum reaching out to someone its impact may never have reached had they not put forth a little extra effort to communicate it to them. It was lovely.

I am having the time of my life here being exposed to things I may never have seen or known had I not chosen to study abroad this semester. I am loving this time and am so thankful that I had the chance to have this experience. I am excited to go home in one week to see my family and friends, but I am beginning to anticipate a new sort of homesickness when I leave this newfound paradise.