Monday, December 26, 2016
Well it’s been four months now since I have been an Italian expat, and I’m sad to say that my time here is nearly halfway over. Every day is an adventure and a blessing in Italy. In the past month, I’ve survived my first set of college finals, celebrated my first holiday season away from home, had coffee with a stranger, completed my permit to stay process, and met up with a longtime friend in Rome! This month went by the quickest out of the four. It must have been because of finals and the holidays!
Experiencing a holiday in Europe was something else. I wasn’t expecting to celebrate Christmas away from home so soon, but it wasn’t as miserable as one might think. Christmas is a big deal here due to the history and high percentage of Christians and Catholics. The cities I saw during the holiday season were decked out for the holidays. My favorite aspects were the lights and Christmas markets. In Florence, Rome, and Budapest there were gorgeous lights stringing the city. They ranged in colors and shapes– strings of lights, gift boxes, high heels, bells. It is truly something else, a sight to be seen. The Christmas markets are unlike anything I’ve seen. Rows of small wooden huts with warm vendors selling reasonably priced Christmas knick knacks ranging from ornaments to soaps to jewelry to ornately decorated gingerbread cookies to stationery. Plus, every Christmas market had delicious holiday comfort food. In Budapest I thoroughly enjoyed devouring Apple strudel, goulash, and roasted potatoes with pork and onions at the Christmas market. Of course I had to try the mulled red wine and apple cider! The Christmas markets are a wonderful place to be because there are so many people also eating, shopping, and admiring the holiday vibes. Something you can’t miss out on if you’re in Europe during December!
Month #4 in Italy has taught me how I consider Florence my home. I find myself missing it, like I do for home in the States, when I’m away from it. I associate Florence with my newfound friends and Marist family. I feel comfortable in Florence and at ease. And the thought of leaving this temporary home is a thought that leaves me uneasy and apprehensive. I’m lucky that I feel so connected and attached to Florence because it means that I’m making the most out of this experience of living here. I know the goodbye will be difficult, but I’m reminded to soak up every moment I have in Florence and not to focus so much on the future.
I hope to continue to practice my Italian and explore other parts of the city. It’s nice feeling like Florence is home, but I feel as though I may be getting too comfortable with my routine here. I want to try new restaurants, utilize the bus system more, and spend more free time outside of the apartment. All good news to report! Here’s to a New Year! xo ~ e.