I officially have five days left in the adorable Italian city that has captured my heart, and this is both daunting and bitter sweet. I have learned more about myself and the world in these four months than I can express with words. I have become a more caring, independent, and an overall wiser person. I know that it sounds cliche, but it's true. If someone wants to expand as a person, they need to study abroad. Period. I have had so many wonderfully crazy and mind blowing experiences here, and want to share my top ten moments. So here's a peak into some of the happiest and funniest moments of my time wandering the gifts that Europe has offered me.
10. Watching The Bachelor in Paradise at the girls' apartment basically every other night for the first three weeks of school. This might seem silly and trivial, but it was a crucial bonding moment for us all. We could laugh at the ridiculous displays of love, and had a heck of a time trying to get the Italian TV to connect to the American Mac laptop. Many moments of friendship and laughter were created while watching this overly dramatic show with mud masks on our faces. The boys watched and did the mud masks, too!
9. Seeing my grandparents in Prague. I hadn't seen family in over two and a half months, and it was unbelievable to be able to get a meal with two of my favorite people thousands of miles away from our homestate of Virginia. It was probably one of my favorite fall break moments.
8. Celebrating my 21st birthday in Siena. From having my best friend from home visit, to my host parents surprising me with a cake, it was such a special day. It made me realize that my friends here have truly become my family.
7. Bartering at the Florence Leather Market. It was such a fun, challenging experience, and I came away with two gorgeous bags that I got 50% off. You can't beat that kind of deal!
6. Spending the first weekend in Cinque Terre. This was the number one place in the world that I wanted to visit, so going there my first weekend in Italy was almost too good to be true. And we got to swim in the Mediterranean Sea, which was incredible to say the least.
5. Hiking in the Swiss Alps. Even though I went to Switzerland when I was fifteen years old with my family, it was such a different experience coming here at age twenty-one with my friends. I also bought a Swiss cuckoo-clock, which is quite the souvenir.
4. Spending the day in Venice. Other than Cinque Terre, Venice was the other Italian city that I was dying to see. It's like no other place in the world, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a unique Italian adventure.
3. Spending fall break in Budapest, Prague and Barcelona. Even though it was jam packed and exhausting, I had the best time tromping around the three different cities and being a hardcore tourist.
2. Climbing up the Eiffle Tower in Paris. This has been on my life bucket list, and to go all the way to the top while the tower was illuminated was breathtaking.
1. Kayaking in Elba. Anna Belson, Nick and I formed "Team Nutella" and spent the majority of Saturday afternoon exploring the crystal blue water and trying to see who could touch the bottom of the sea. It was a weekend that I will never forget. Cinque Terre is a place for American tourists, and Elba is a place for Italian locals. It's like no other island that I've ever been to.
In conclusion, my study abroad experience was better than I ever could have immagined. I have met people and places that I will never forget, and I am so thankful to have chosen Siena as my homebase. It's safe to say that a piece of my heart will forever remain in Tuscany.
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<p>I am a current junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Italian at Sewanee: The University of the South. I am a proud member of Kappa Delta sorority, and am a coxswain for Sewanee's crew team. In my free time, I enjoy kayaking, reading, going for runs, and playing with my dogs.</p>