FFE Retreat

Friday, May 12, 2017

Today we had an FFE End of Year Orientation hosted by Marist Italy in a nearby surrounding hill/villa called Settignano. The panoramic and distance view of Florence’s historic city center was unbelievable! A mix of city and greenery in one shot.

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Can you spot the Duomo?

It was again so comforting being all together; we started this journey as strangers in Tarquinia nine months ago, and now we’ll leave as friends and abroad companions. We did some free writing and reflection which we desperately needed. We have been so busy and stressed about packing, finalizing papers, and studying for finals, that we haven’t had a lot of time dedicated to thinking about how much we have learned and grown during our freshman year.

We had 3-4 minutes to write about these prompts in our journals:

  • Write about anything that you’re feeling
  • What’s an assumption you had upon arrival in Italy?
  • What advice do you have for your Fall 2017 self?
  • I came to Florence in late August of 2016, and I saw…
  • I came to Florence in late August of 2016, and I thought…
  • I came to Florence in late August of 2016, and I felt…
  • I’m leaving Florence in late May 2017, and I am…

We split up into small groups after and had discussions facilitated by Marist Italy staff members. Those were nice, because we talked more about our individual takeaways from the program and year.

They fed us well in the refectory. The villa we were at also hosted Dutch college students. It was neat seeing them in Florence, because Sasha and I saw them in Amsterdam in March!

After lunch, we started to look forward. Current Marist students talked about their experiences in Poughkeepsie, housing people gave us logistics, and an Italian professor gave us some advice about transitioning to an American college campus. We also Skyped our Marist professors from first semester! It was so comforting hearing their voices and seeing their faces; they will be excellent resources for us on campus. We move in August 23 (before the freshmen) to get our bearings down. It will be another adventure and a new beginning. As sad as we are to leave, the end of the school year is always exciting. Nothing can compare to our freshman year abroad, so we have to enter Marist in Poughkeepsie with an open mind and without the intention of comparing it to Marist in Florence.

We concluded the emotionally exhausting day with a prosecco toast and snack outside on the patio. I still am not good with opening bottles, so Lauren had to help me out.

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We left Settignano around 5:30 PM. Colleen, Louis, and I got a photo before we left. The three of us bonded so much this year through soccer club and small town struggles 🙂

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This evening I did more packing, bought some souvenirs for friends and family, and went out for pizza and cannolis at the Mercato. It was a really satisfying day. It’s time to start winding down and preparing for a challenging yet temporary ‘arrivderci.’ xo ~ e.

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