It was truly a bittersweet period of my life, and the last month of my study abroad was easily the quickest month I have ever lived through. It was a time when I was scrambling to fit in as many last minute activities as possible, while simultaneously dealing with time and monetary constraints. Looking back, my biggest regret was being far too frugal in a situation I may never again experience. When in my life will I ever again be able to cage dive with great whites, paraglide from the peak of Table Mountain, or skydive over the beautiful South African landscape? In retrospect, it would have been far more appealing to live in squalor my final semester stateside, then to have passed up some of the amazing opportunities laid out in front of me in South Africa.
Without coming across as a preacher of sorts, the best advice I can pass on to current students studying in Florence is to leave Europe without a single regret. In 5, 10, or 20 years, you won’t remember having perfect attendance and acing your Italian class, or having enough money to party and go out once you returned home. You will, without a doubt, remember the absolute debauchery that you witnessed at Oktoberfest, or that weekend exploring a breathtakingly snow-covered Prague, or that day jumping from a helicopter with the Swiss Alps glimmering on the horizon.
DO NOT go home having not truly experienced one of the coolest cities you will ever have the opportunity to live in. You are staying in a city that revolutionized the entire world, and gave birth to some of the most incendiary individuals to have ever walked the face of the earth. It’s easy to walk to and from class each day, and become all too familiar with your surroundings. The initial amazement you had when you first saw the Duomo has probably worn off by now, and you probably don’t even think twice about the history all around you. Take time to sit outside the Duomo at 4 in the morning with a close friend thinking about the thousands of people that dedicated their lives to working on this masterpiece. Stop in any and all churches you pass, and experience some artwork and architecture most of your friends will only ever see online or in a textbook. Pay a little bit of cash, suck it up, and wait in line at any one of the museums across the city to see artwork that influenced an entire civilization. And for god’s sake, if you have never sat in Piazzale Michelangelo or on the steps of San Miniato with a bottle of wine and watched the sunset over one of the most picturesque skylines you will ever see, then you haven’t truly lived in Florence.
You have just over a month left before you will be back in the U.S. in your normal routine, with your time in Europe simply a memory in the back of your mind. Make sure you live the last several weeks of your experience to the fullest. Spend the last of your money on that trip to Prague, or Budapest, or whatever city you have been daydreaming about for the last few days, weeks, and months. Trust me, it is far better to be a little hungry and broke in Massachusetts, New York, or California, than it is to be frugal and ordinary in Italy. Who knows when you will be here again? The options are in front of you... your move.
Use code "DEAN" to save €25 for the remainder of the Fall 2013 semester!
Written by: Rory Dean