Original post date: 11 December 2012

While walking home from dinner with a few of my friends tonight I was constantly reminded of the many things I am going to miss when I leave Florence on Saturday. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to study in such a beautiful city, and have this play to call ‘home’ after weekends of traveling. While I was walking home in the chilly ‘winter’ weather I felt right at home in Wisconsin, in fact I felt so safe walking home it felt like I was walking around the St. Norbert campus, until I saw one of the fake David statues, instead of St. Norbert statue between Coffrin and Bemis.

Once I saw the twinkling lights and heard the river rushing as I was walking along it my mind that has been subconsciously freaking about finals stopped thinking about them, and just began to wander. Memories of my semester here all came rushing back, like the water that was rushing downstream alongside me. I thought back to my first weekend here, and trying to navigate my way around the city with Rachel and Alyssa. I remember the awkward small-talk conversations I had with students from my program, some whom I see on occasion and others whom I have never seen again. I think of our first apartment’s front door and how it took us about 15 minutes to figure out how to lock it, and then the next morning when our bathroom flooded and we were told we were moving completely across the city. Then I think back to the beautiful, yet torturous, summer weather we experienced until late-October, and how now on these chilly and rainy days I catch myself wishing it was warm again. Then each and every one of my trips came to mind and I am simply baffled to think that it was all real life, and I went to all these different places in less than 4 months, and I wonder why the time flew by…
As I was walking home I remembered just how simple and beautiful Florence is, and how I tend to take advantage of it when I am just walking out and about going on with my daily routine. Florence is stunning, and tonight when it was so peaceful I decided to take the long way home so I could look at all of the twinkling Christmas lights, walk across the vacant Ponte Vecchio, walk in front of Palazzo Vecchio, catch a glimpse of the Christmas tree by the Duomo, and just look at the architecture of this city that I have called home for almost the past 4 months-the place that I have to say goodbye to come early Saturday morning.

At this point in the week I cannot even begin to describe the feelings I have had this week, it has truly been a roller coaster with me (I apologize to anyone who has had to deal with me this week). As many of you know I am not going home on Saturday, like many of my friends are, but instead am taking about 11 days to travel Southern Italy with my friend Zac, ending with Christmas Eve mass at the Vatican, and then a 5:55am flight out of Rome on the 26th. So, as you can see I won’t be home with my family for the holidays, and it has been recently hitting me pretty hard. It has been especially hard this week, with the unlimited amount of statuses flooding facebook about how excited everyone is for Christmas break, and going home to spend time with family. All I can think about is how that will be me, but not for another 2 weeks…as opposed to the 4 days they have to wait. Don’t get me wrong I am excited to travel, and see Southern Italy for a little change of pace. And I am eternally grateful for the unconditional support of my loving family, but I miss them, and I cannot wait to see them. And part of me is wishing that I would be catching a plane home on Saturday back to Chicago, instead of taking the train down to Rome. But that’s not the case, and I have realized that this trip is only going to be as good as I make it, so I’m doing my best to go into it with an open mind and the thought that my family will be there waiting for me on the 26th and all will be well.

To end my post I thought I’d list some of the MANY things that I will miss about Florence and my time abroad…

-walking along the river
-living in a city surrounded by countrysides with villas and vineyards
-living with two of my really great friends, cooking with them, laughing with them, and sharing the responsibility of an apartment with them
-the architecture in this city
-walking in breathtaking churches, the next one more beautiful than the last
-walking throughout the city and happening upon a random historical building
-going to mass in the Cathedral, whether it be in English or Italian
-the Marian art that is on buildings all throughout the city
-walking around the city at night, feeling safe and comfortable
-gelato 🙂
-going to my favorite cafe and getting my usual for cheaper than the time before because the barista recognizes me, and appreciates my attempts at speaking italian
– the view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo, and the hike up to it
-the winding, narrow streets

Now you can see why it is going to be so hard to say goodbye to Florence on Saturday. Every city has its ups and downs, but I am so happy that I chose Florence to be the city I spend my four months away in!

Alexis Redig studied abroad at Florence University of the Arts in Florence, Italy.