Major: Creative Writing English
Non-WMU Program Florence, Italy
My Dearest Florence,
You have changed me forever. Through my small amount of traveling in Italy and Western Europe, I must say, there isn’t another place on the planet that is quite like you. The cradle of the Renaissance, the beholder of ancient art and magnificent history, you tell a story without even speaking a word. And for the past four months, you have spoken. You have told me your story, you have allowed me to strive to become the person I want to be, and you have influenced me to slow this life down and enjoy the view right in front of my face. Florence, you have encouraged me to explore deep within myself for what makes me truly happy.
At first, you were terrifying. Your bus drivers are like madmen, your streets reek like a bowling alley ashtray, and your gypsies show no mercy. You charged me to use any of your public bathrooms. Your water isn’t free; and the pain of ordering sparking water accidentally is heartbreaking. I will never forgive you for not having dryers.
It took me four months to get accustomed to your way of life, and just as I get into the swing of things, I must leave you. But I promise you, from the sincerest chamber of my heart, I shall see you again. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that you are the greatest city I will ever meet. Your beauty is intrinsic; you melt the hearts of each person who cares enough to let you.
I found you at a crucial point, my college years, as I hunt to find my worth in this world. You don’t possess this answer, and it would be cruel of me to expect you to. My place in life will only be found within myself, but thanks to you, I’m much closer than I ever have been before. I never believed I would ever get the opportunity to see, let alone live, with you for four months; and now, I feel incredibly thankful. If it wasn’t for you, who would I become?
Italy has altered my outlook on the way I want to spend the rest of my time alive. You have allowed time to slow to a point where enjoyment is everything. When I’m here, I have time to converse and listen to understand others rather than listening to respond. I have time to sit at a cafe for hours and read a book. I have time to sit with my journal and watch the sunrise over the entire city of Florence.
I don’t know what you did to me, but something has changed. I feel differently when looking in the mirror. I think differently when I approach making a decision. I act differently in almost every situation. Florence, you have done something to me that I cannot even express in words. Before I leave, I must thank you. Our time together has been brief and strenuous, emotionally and physically testing, and painfully beautiful. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Florence, I only abandon you because of what you taught me. I must press my head down, get this degree, and start doing what I love. In the meantime, this is your time to find another life to alter forever. A new wave of students will soon arrive, a new sea full of potential, and you shall move on without me. My only regret is that I didn’t fully appreciate you while I had you, and this is something, I will never forgive myself for. But the heartache I feel now will only be temporary. Soon enough, upon entering the United States and the political nightmare that is America, my grief will convert to motivation. Just like I found it in myself to make it here once, I promise you, I will find it in me to make it back. I must make you proud, Florence. I must make you prouder than you’ve ever been. For what you’ve done for me, it’s the least I can do.
For now, and until one day, I say goodbye.