Florence 2020 Florence, Italy

Leaving Florence Abruptly Because of COVID-19

Hey guys! Welcome back to my blog! As I hinted last week, the gears are changing in terms of what I will talk about in the blog for the next few weeks. This week, I will talk about what it was like leaving Italy right in the middle of the semester.

The news about the Florence program cancellation came in just as we were starting our spring break, around February 29. Quite frequently, the news should not have been much of a surprise, given the way Italy was talked about in the news, and the CDC raising the health level threat in Italy to a three. But regardless of this, I could not help but be in shock and disbelief over the whole situation.

We were barely halfway through our allotted time in Italy. We were only a month in and had a month and half left. I was starting to get settled in and getting used to my new city. It was so much harder to believe it because Florence did not seem to be in a state of panic. I would watch American news outlets talk about how bad things were in Italy, but I had never seen it with my own eyes.  I am not sure if it is because we were not in a red zone, or if the news were indeed exaggerating the situation at the time.

My initial response was to stay in Florence for a couple more weeks. I felt like I could stay to visit all the spots in Florence that were on my checklist. But my plans did not come to fruition because my family started pressuring me about coming back to the United States, and people from the program started leaving one by one, and in groups every day after the announcement. Staying alone did not feel safe, or fun. The people in the program helped the experience be what it was for me. Therefore, I booked my flight and officially left Florence on March 6.

It was very bittersweet leaving Florence. It took a couple of days for everything to set in for me, just coming to the realization that I was really leaving. I tried thinking about the positive side of things, just knowing that the numbers are accurate, and Italy was truly not safe anymore. I had heard about a few cases in the United States and knew that it was only a matter of time until it spread. Knowing this, I figured that it would be best to be with my family in a time like this. Now looking at the way that things are in Italy, I am so grateful that I left when I did. I had made a friend while I was in Italy, and from the way that she describes Florence now truly makes me glad I came back to be with my family.

I decided to make the best out of the little time I had left in Florence. I went on walks and visited my favorites places for the last times. I went out to eat, and just saw how deserted the place was. Restaurant with waiting lists had a bunch of empty tables, merchants were getting desperate to sell their merchandise, and it really was sad to see the once animated city turn into a ghost town. I truly hope that we can control the virus soon, and that everyone can go back to living their lives in peace.

I was sad at first, but I kept thinking that all I could do at the time was to accept it and move on. It was one of the best experiences that I have had in my life so far, and I am so grateful that I went. Although it was short, I still learned a lot of new things that I would not have otherwise. I look forward to going back to Florence in the future.

Anyways, that is it for this week. Make sure to also read up on the blogs coming out later this week, Rebekah and Amara will share their last experiences in Florence.

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