Studying abroad in Florence has shown me a new appreciation for living, learning, and enjoying the journey of life. As college students in a competitive environment, we are constantly caught up in the future, anticipating and planning what’s to come — What will I do for spring break? Where will I intern next summer? Where will I work after graduation? What’s my 10-year plan?
Traveling and living in a new place has sparked my adventurous spirit and appreciation for the present.
Being away from Cornell has made me wonder why I tend to explore places only when I am on a planned vacation. I often get too tied to monotonous daily routines — going to class and the library, eating lunch with friends, going out Friday night.
During my time in Florence, I have learned the beauty of taking advantage of where I am. I didn’t realize how much there was to see even in my own backyard, granted my backyard here is Tuscany. I take day trips, explore vineyards, or even grab my camera and get lost in unexplored areas across the Arno. My current project is to get espresso at a different coffee shop every morning for the rest of my time here. I’m going to sit, read the Herald Tribune and embrace the moment. Taking adventures or trying new things is mysterious, fun, and you never know what you will find or whom you will meet.
My favorite part of traveling is learning about other cultures and how my New York bubble is merely a speck of a way to live compared to the rest of the world. The more one travels, the more one realizes the endlessness of exploration and learning.
If you feel uninspired or bored, do something new. Get in your car and drive to Canada. Pretend you are showing a foreign student around Ithaca, you’ll begin to notice the beauty in things to which you’ve become completely accustomed. Go to the cool restaurants outside of Collegetown or have a picnic in the apple orchard. I know when I get back to New York State, I am getting a tourist guidebook and going to Manhattan like I’m on vacation (even though I was born there).
The most wonderful thing I will take from my studying abroad is my appreciation for stopping in the moment and embracing where I am in life. On a recent trip from Florence, I savored the distinct smells in Berlin, tasted potato dumplings in Prague and wandered up a street in search of a beautiful view. It’s these little things that create memories that will make life truly enjoyable and exciting. You just have to slow down. Look. Listen. Taste. See. Wonder.
Annaclaire Brodnick is a junior in the College of Human Ecology and studied abroad in Florence, Italy last semester. She may be reached at email@example.com. Notes from Abroad: Culture Shock appears on Wednesdays.