Ciao, Fairfield! I hope everyone is enjoying their time back on campus for the start of the spring semester. For me, this semester looks different than any I have experienced before. On Jan. 24 I landed in Florence, Italy, to kick off my semester abroad! Although I have only been here for two full days so far, it has already been such an amazing experience. Florence is home to some of the most famous art, food and architecture in the world and I walk around the city in awe that I have the opportunity to live here for three and a half months!

Jan. 24, 2024 was one of the craziest days of my life. I took a red-eye flight on the night of the 23rd out of Boston Logan Airport and landed in Munich, Germany for a quick layover. Not only was I in Europe for the first time, but it was also my 21st birthday! I will never forget handing my passport over to the man working customs at the Munich airport. He looked down at my passport, and then looked back up at me with a smile, saying “Happy birthday by the way.” 

Hearing this hit me with an unexpected wave of emotions and all of a sudden I was tearing up in the middle of customs at the Munich airport (slightly embarrassing). I have been looking forward to starting my study abroad journey on my 21st birthday for over a year now, and finally experiencing this moment was more surreal than I could have imagined. I thanked him, collected my passport and continued through the airport to hop on my next flight to Florence. 

Thankfully, the flight from Munich to Florence was only an hour and thirty minutes, which was a very nice change from the six-and-a-half-hour flight that I had just taken. This plane was packed with study abroad students – not only did I run into a couple of Fairfield friends, but I was able to chat with some UMass Amherst study abroad students as well. Getting to make new friends on the flight was so exciting; I already felt more reassured that I would have a few friendly faces to see while out and about. 

The second that the plane landed in Florence things started to take off. Once I got my luggage, I was handed keys, shown to a car and driven to my apartment. If I thought the driving back home in Boston was bad, I was in for a rude awakening. Cars in Florence fly down narrow cobblestone streets and do not seem to prioritize pedestrian safety. Pro tip: always be aware of vehicles while walking around! 

Living right outside of the Basilica of Santa Croce, my apartment is in a stunning location with tons of street market vendors, coffee shops and an amazing panini place all within the piazza. My bedroom has huge windows that open up like double doors to a view of the Basilica – I have to pinch myself every time to remind myself that this is real life! 

After a couple of hours of orientation meetings and a dinner with all of the Fairfield study abroad students, I was absolutely exhausted. Running on three hours of sleep for the past two days made me feel like the Walking Dead. Despite this chronic fatigue, some of my friends convinced me to go out and celebrate my birthday. In what was probably the most forceful boot-and-rally of my life, I fought off the exhaustion and enjoyed the night exploring the city and checking out some local spots with some friends, new and old. And the best part is that I didn’t pay for a single drink! Regardless of how badly my body needed sleep at this moment, I will always be thankful that I had such kind and fun people to celebrate my 21st with. It is definitely a birthday I will never forget! 

Since move-in day, I have gone to some cute coffee shops, walked along the Arno River, stared in awe at the Duomo di Firenze, made new friends and had some of the best food I have ever tasted (I am still thinking about the ravioli with truffle sauce that I had for dinner last night). Although I am still chronically tired, I have been having a blast so far. This city is unlike anything I have ever seen before and I still cannot believe that I get to call this beautiful place my home for the next three and a half months! Make sure to keep reading The Mirror throughout the semester for updates on my adventures in Florence! Ciao, for now, Stags!

About The Author

-- Junior I Assistant Vine I English Creative Writing --

Jacqui is an English: Creative Writing major in Fairfield University's class of 2025

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