Yet, I believe that 15 years could go by before I return to Florence and I would still be able to expertly navigate my way around the city. Of course, there were the early moments of the trip when my fellow Abbey Road travelers and I felt like we were in a foreign maze, thinking to ourselves that we would never be able to navigate through the winding streets and piazzas. But these thoughts lasted for just that, a moment.
Within a couple of hours of exploration, my friends and I were pounding the cobblestone-like natives. Going to class, going for cappuccinos, going to museums and art galleries, finding the chicest restaurants that served the best gnocchi, or the nicest stores for our shopping desires, we explored and discovered until Florence became our playground and classroom to learn from, and enjoy. During my time in Florence, I studied Italian Art History. While my pre-departure expectations were already very high for the type of educational experience I would have, I could not have begun to fathom how high the class would soar above my wildest imaginings.
I took an Advanced Placement Art History course in High school last year. I remember the day we visited the Galleria Academia and witnessed the magnificence of Michelangelo’s David, I kept remembering back to that Advanced Placement class and my 11 other classmates whom I pitied. While their David experience culminated with a tiny, playing a card-sized picture of him in our textbook, and a brief caption which claimed that he is glorious, I was beholding his marbled flesh and witnessing his perfection, in person. This same scenario occurred in each artistic masterpiece that our class visited.
Each time I stood before an oil painting or bronze sculpture, I was overcome with a feeling of relief that I was lucky enough to be able to absorb the vivid colors and chiseled details from only inches away. No textbook photograph or three-sentence long caption could ever take the place of that initial moment when you first glimpse a gorgeous fresco or spectacular statue, and your breath is taken away. Of course, every pre-college student thinks that they have what it takes to live away from home with one or two other strangers, where they must navigate through groceries, cleaning, finances, rigorous studying, all while trying to maintain some semblance of a social life…well, maybe not everyone. I was one of those students who thought I had dorm life down to a “T.” But after returning from Italy and living like an adult, in an apartment, with two, initial strangers where we had to navigate through grocery shopping, apartment cleaning, budgeting our money, completing our class assignments, all while making time for gelato outings and shopping excursions, I realize that I would have been at a serious disadvantage without this program. Now that I have survived a month on my own, in a foreign country, I feel more confident than ever that I have gained the knowledge and skills to overcome any obstacle I may face when I start college in the fall.