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An Appreciation for Home & Abroad

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The moment I stepped off the plane in Florence, I felt an immense appreciation for this new culture of which I am only beginning to understand. Such an appreciation only continues to grow with each passing day. With every new turn, and with every new panini, I continue to expand my list of what I know I’ll miss when I finally return home 15 weeks from now. As with any untried adventure, however, whether it is leaving for college or studying abroad, there are always a few aspects of your old life that fail to be outshined by the excitement of arrival.
 Tempting paninis down every alley and on every corner.

A handful of these things – air conditioning, dryers, elevators, free water, a full wardrobe, greenery, ice, toilet seat covers – require no further explanation. Still, the hardest aspects with which to cope, and also the most difficult to explain, are those that are often overlooked when planning your arrival:

The Hunt for “Common” Goods

Unfortunately, there is no definitive list of “What You Can’t Buy In Italy.” And believe me, I’ve looked. I am guilty of packing four months worth of a particular product that I was convinced I wouldn't be able to find here. And then I did. However, that isn't to say that shopping is easy. It took three of us and several hours to track down an acceptable pillow and a well-functioning hair dryer. You can buy just about any product in Florence (yes, even peanut butter), it just might take you a while to find the small, scattered shops that sell it. I am not one to ever under appreciate a well-stocked Target – but boy do I miss Target.

 The closest and most beautiful place to find grass in the heart of city.

Financial Responsibility

A huge source of stress and worry simply stems from a new reality of financial responsibility. Sure, this skill-set is explored early on in college and is conquered by many (some better than others) in early adult life. But while abroad, the goal is no longer to merely survive. Instead, we are torn as students between saving money and truly living in a time which we see as the last, fleeting moments of youth. It's a new challenge to budget money in this way and to find the 'right' balance between frugality and lavishness.

 Finally saw The David and loved every minute of it.

Luckily, I have been thriving in Florence for the last two weeks. I am overjoyed to announce that the pros definitely outweigh the cons. If anything, the aspects I have deemed negative only manage to improve my competence as I enter the real world and ultimately push me to grow as a functioning adult.
 The Duomo is an amazing site to see at any hour, especially sunset.

Chandler S. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Florence, Italy. She is currently a junior studying Graphic Communications at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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