The Boy Who Stayed

By Noah Roberts, FFE 2015-16

Starting college is hard, and starting college away from home is even harder, but starting college in a different country is probably the hardest. That being said, studying abroad – especially my first year in college – is probably one of the most rewarding and life changing decisions that I have ever made.

Everyone goes through some homesickness in their lives. Some feel it more than others, but almost everyone feels it, whether it’s missing your mom, your brother, your friends at home, or your favorite restaurant. I’m not going to sugar coat it, the first few months for me were hard – really hard. It got to a point for me that I wanted to leave as soon as possible. I was contemplating dropping all my classes and going back home. A couple things stopped me from going through with this. One reason was obviously the classes that I wouldn’t get credit for but had already paid for. The other main reason was the fear of the decision to leave being a huge mistake. These two things led me to at least try to finish my first semester in Florence, and also to try and actually make the best of it. That was the best decision I made. I started to interact more with my fellow FFEs as well as travel. Once you get in the mindset of trying to be happy, you can actually see a difference. As the first semester came to an end, I started to feel better and better.

I remember that the main turning point for me was actually the day I was leaving to go back home for winter break. I had packed my bags with everything, because at this point I was still unsure of whether or not I was coming back for the second semester. My taxi came to pick me up and I as I drove away from our apartment on San Gallo an overwhelming wave of sadness swept over me. This couldn’t be the last time I was in Florence. This couldn’t be the last time I saw my friends. This couldn’t be the end of it…. Fast forward a month and a half and there I am, sitting on a plane. Giddy with excitement that after just an 11-hour flight and a short connection in Amsterdam I will be back in the city that I now call home. The difference between how I felt last semester and how I feel this semester is a complete 180. I sit here writing this now in disbelief that I could ever hate it here. With only about one more month until the end of my time here in Florence, I think about having to go home and dread the thought of it. I have learned so many lessons from being here this year. Things take time to get used to, first impressions aren’t always right, and life really can be what you make it. As I walk to class, or the grocery store or the bank, I truly do consider Florence my city, and feel completely at home.

Photo by Meredith Pollock

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