A Year In Florence: Bittersweet

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

I can't believe that it's been a year since I left Cebu... and I can't believe that I've been staying in Florence for a year now! Living here has been a privilege. I can't complain. Italy is such a beauty! My younger self would have never imagined that I would stay in Italy for a certain period. Nor did I expect to win a design competition and earn myself a scholarship for a Master's Degree! 

With Jesse. He played a very big role on everything and helped me all the way, even up to now. :)

with Deniece and Kat

I remember when I saw the competition, I said to myself there is no way that I would win. Then I said to myself, there is no harm in trying. So I made my entry in 3 days. Just in time for the last day of submission of entries. Last year, when I got the news that I won, I still wasn't sure if I would be able to obtain a student visa for some reasons. While I submitted my visa application, I said to myself that I will start studying Italian when I get my visa back. I waited for my visa for days, and then weeks, and then months, until my school started. I lost hope and thought that they might not grant me my visa. A few days after, they finally released my visa! Since I was already 2 weeks behind my classes, I decided to have my flight a week after. It's just enough for me to prepare my documents, visit the bank, the dentist, and pack my things. It was a hectic week. The day of departure came. My close friends dropped me off at the airport. I was feeling fine at first but when I finally said goodbye and turned my back against them... my heart was so heavy and tears started rolling down my face. I was heart broken. 

My first photo of myself in Florence. I look so lost. XD

I had two stop overs, Bangkok and Switzerland, before reaching Florence. My Bangkok to Switzerland flight was the longest flight. While I was on the plane to Switzerland, something suddenly came into my mind. I said to myself, "What the heck am I doing? I don't know anyone in Italy, I didn't study about Florence on how it works there, and I don't know how to speak Italian!" I wasn't prepared at all! I got so anxious, scared, and also excited at the same time. Moving to Florence unprepared is probably one of the craziest things that I did!  Read about the 10 things I learned from the Italians.

with Mia, Luca, Rie, and our teacher, Mr. Bicci

with Laura, my first roommate

Finally, I was able to catch up with my classes in school. I made a few new friends at school. Also, my roommates and I got really close. I explored other parts of Italy, went to UK to see my mom, and also visited Spain. I traveled so much during my school year, and I was really happy! Until late January. It was the coldest month in Florence. I haven't been going out because it was too cold, my roommate wasn't there, and so I started to feel so lonely. I thought I had a seasonal depression. It was the first winter in my life. I'm not sure but I was really sad and uninspired. I started to feel homesick, I missed my family, my friends, everyone that I care for so much. I guess it's normal for someone who's alone in a different country to feel this way. Luckily, I made new friends again who are very outgoing and Florence started to feel like home. It was in late March when I decided to stay longer in Florence. 

with Jesse and Kat

Everything was going well. I finished my studies and I enrolled myself to a language school to seriously learn Italian. Then all of my friends, like all of them, left Florence. Again, I felt so lonely. Even when I was with my Italian friends, I somehow still felt so lonely. It's really hard to express yourself in a language that is very new to you and I found it really hard to connect with them too. I even had thoughts of going back to Cebu because I miss my friends back home. But then again, I said to myself that I should keep going and work towards my goal. What keeps me going are my friends and family. They are always telling me how proud they are of me. I may not have everyone here but I have everyone around the world. 

Finally got my diploma!

Right now, I already got my Master's Degree Diploma. I have my internship with an Italian Furniture Designer, Leonardo Rossano. I also have a part-time job that really pushed me to work hard. When I get home and don't feel tired, I try to continue studying Italian or work on my own projects. I know my schedule is really packed right now but I know this is only temporary and this will also help me reach my dreams. 

with Marco, Maurice, Tommaso, and Xiao

with Elizabetta, my second roommate

with Kristin

I won't lie. I struggled a lot during my stay here. From the language barrier, to the paper work, up to being totally independent in a totally different country. Despite the struggles, I learned a lot of new things that I didn't know I was capable of before. I was able to build friendship to people from different parts of the world! 

There will always be uncertainties specially when growth seems to be unapparent. However, I realized that you won't grow when you're comfortable. Everything is always difficult at first. It's always a matter of not giving up. Looking back at myself from day one up to now, I have to say that I've learned so much and I've grown so much. Bittersweet because I miss everyone that I love but , then again, I am very grateful because living in Florence gave me so many opportunities in life. This wouldn't be possible if I didn't try in the first place. :)

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  1. miss you, chup!!!

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  3. I'm in my usual state up here in the interpretation box: high tension, heart beating like a trip hammer, whatever that is. I never did say that you can't be a nice guy and win. I said that if I was in performance third base and my momma rounded third with the winning run, I'd trip her up.

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