Benvenuto friends, family, and fellow travelers of our incredibly beautiful world! My name is Meghan Fleming, and I could not be more excited to share my study abroad experience with you over the next few months on #ReflectionFriday! Florence is a place that I hope everybody reading gets the chance to visit someday. Until that day comes, my hope is that by following along with this blog, the beauty of the city will come to life and give you great insight into all of its wonders, which I aspire to make possible through the power of reflection.
I feel beyond blessed to be able to say that I am returning to this city for the second, and hopefully not the last, time in my life. Although I traveled to many unique and remarkable areas of Italy in 2019, Florence is one that has had a special spot in my heart ever since. Knowing that our time was limited in this place filled with so much to see during my first visit, my friends and I rented bikes for the day in an effort to observe everything that we possibly could before we made our way to the next stop on our excursion. Although we spent an entire afternoon touring the city, leaving with a mind full of memories and a camera roll full of pictures, we also left knowing that there was still so much more in store, which is why I am so very excited to spend the next three months not just visiting but living in a city that has so much to offer.
From the day my Symposium professor informed me in August 2020 that he was leading a study abroad trip to Italy in Spring 2022, I have been thinking nonstop about what it would be like to live and learn in this amazing country for an entire semester. The day I signed up for the trip was the day the countdown began, and I am still trying to digest the fact that it is finally here. The anticipation that built up between me and my classmates over the past few months was nothing compared to the excitement we felt when we finally landed in our dream education destination. Once we stepped off the plane and settled into our apartments, we instantly began exploring the streets that are home to our temporary institution. We quickly realized that much of our learning this semester would occur outside of the classroom in the heart of this historic center.
As a business major with a philosophy and theology minor, I can already tell that most of my studying will take place in the various basilicas, museums, and libraries that are scattered throughout the city. The impacts that Florence has had in the field of theology and philosophy can be understood from anywhere in the world, but also have become so much more evident as I witnessed their impressions in person, causing my love and appreciation for these subjects to grow even deeper than they did during my first few semesters of college. In addition to diving deeper into my interests, one of my favorite aspects of this trip so far has been discovering the individual interests of my peers that inspired them to study abroad and watching the ways in which they are incorporating their passions into their academic endeavors and everyday lives. After a week of adjusting and getting to know one another, immersing ourselves in a completely different culture, and adapting to our new environment, we are all thrilled that we get to continue this journey together.
As I initially thought about my first week in Florence, my mind flooded with all of the new knowledge that I have learned, astonishing imagery that I have seen, and fun events and activities that I have experienced already. With so many extraordinary sights to see, endless places to visit, and centuries worth of history surrounding me as I walk the streets of this famous city, I know it is going to be extremely easy to get lost in my everyday adventures. Each second is capable of presenting a new surprise, which is why I have decided to dedicate this blog to reflection: one of the most powerful ways to stay present in our daily lives. I invite you to join me week by week, as I hop back on a bike, this time riding away from the busyness of the city into the peacefulness of nature, where I will be reflecting on my time in the city of Florence and thanking God for this unbelievable opportunity that I feel so lucky to be apart of. Thank you for reading – I look forward to writing next week on #ReflectionFriday!!