Flying to Florence! Pre-Departure Post

Hi there! My name is Johnette and I’m a rising senior at the USF St. Petersburg campus with a major in Political Science and a minor in Leadership. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to study abroad in Florence this summer for 6 weeks! My mom’s side of the family is Italian so it has been a lifelong dream to visit Italy and experience my heritage and culture there. I took four years of Italian in high school and a semester of Italian at USF so hopefully I have the basics down, but I have been brushing up with Duolingo before this trip to try my best to speak in Italian when I can for fun! One of the things I’m most looking forward to on this trip is all the museums and art I will get to see! Among the many perks of living on campus in St. Pete is all the amazing museums around and Florence is filled with museums around every corner! I will be taking Italian Renaissance Architecture and Introduction to Art History as my classes while abroad, so hopefully that means lots of learning by seeing these works for ourselves in person!

As exciting as it is to be going to Italy in general, I’m even more excited for my trip because I have three of my best friends going with me! Knowing that I have friends by my side with me on this experience helps to relieve a bit of stress because I won’t be alone and I will always have someone to go explore the sights with me (and at least if we get lost, we will be lost together). If you don’t know anyone going into this trip though, don’t let that stop you from looking forward to Italy. The students going on this study abroad made a GroupMe so we could all get to know each other before meeting in Italy and help each other with prepping for the journey. You’ll also have some roommates while staying in Italy so that is an easy way to become friends with people as well!

I won’t lie, I’ve also been incredibly nervous preparing for this trip. Trying to get everything together and organized like documents and cell service before I leave has been a lot to tackle. I like to be overprepared in situations and learn as much as I can about where I go to help calm my nerves. Sometimes, this can do the opposite and only make me more anxious, but using the resources provided to us by USF and FUA has been pretty helpful. Looking at maps of the area surrounding my assigned apartment to map out the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, library, and how far away my friends’ apartment is has given me a sense of calm, since everything is so close and easily accessible by walking. The best thing I found is a gelato shop 5 minutes from my apartment that is open till 2am!

Being overprepared can also lead to overpacking, but luckily I’ve found that I am a pretty skilled packer! My tips for fitting a lot into a suitcase is folding items into thin rectangles and stacking on top, rolling items together to save space, stuffing my socks into the shoes I’m taking, and laying everything out on a table beforehand to visualize and check off what I’m bringing so I don’t forget anything. The weather is expected to be in the high 80s to even 100 degrees in Florence so packing light clothes means a lot more suitcase space too. I am not looking forward to the heat but I feel like living in Florida has prepared me very well for it!

I had never really flown before (except when I was really little, but I wasn’t old enough to remember it so it doesn’t count) so the idea of having to take three flights, especially an 8 hour one is sort of terrifying. I just recently went on a trip to New York though, which helped me figure out how to maneuver airports and some things to do to make myself feel calm and comfortable on a plane. I know it is a heated debate about what seat is best, but I had the aisle seat both times and I really liked it because I didn’t have to worry about bothering anyone if I needed to get up. I made sure to have water with me, some snacks, and was able to watch movies and listen to calming piano music to distract myself from constantly checking how much longer the flight was going to be.

To me, flying will be the most stressful part, so I know once that is over and I land in Florence and settle into my apartment, everything will be fantastic! Thank you for reading and following along on my journey! Stay tuned for more posts about my adventures!

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