Six Lessons I Learned while Living Abroad in Florence

5 Best Weekend Trips From Tuscany, Six Lessons I Learned while Living Abroad in Florence

After living in Florence for six months now, I’ve learned some valuable lessons in Italy that are unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon. I will be returning to Florence in the fall, but I thought I would share some of the realities I faced while living here and what I would have done differently.

They may seem like little things, but I have found that the biggest changes often happen in the smallest ways—and Italy seemed to have managed to change me little by little. Here are 6 things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Pack Lighter

I came over with the idea that I would need to have enough clothing to last me the entire six months. Never mind that seasons change and that you seem to wear out clothes faster when you are abroad. I packed far too many things, and I am going to have to end up throwing a lot out because they have holes or tears. My shoes? Completely busted from walking so much and I am leaving them far behind. Next time, I am planning on taking much less. Though this plan is definitely most applicable to my suitcase, it’s also shown me that I really do not need a lot to be happy—just a plate of pasta and a trip to the Uffizi Gallery!

2. Letting Things Go

Coming from Montana, we tend to have a “get ‘er done” kind of attitude. In Italy, there is more of a “que sera sera” way of looking at things. When our washing machine was broken at our apartment, it took two weeks to replace the lock on the door—a job that would have been finished in thirty minutes back home in the United States. As a result, I’ve learned to let a lot of things go that normally would have bothered me. Knowing that you have tomorrow to get things under control has helped me realize that life is not meant to be rushed, as long as you get it done some time or another.

living in Italy
While living in Florence, Alex discovered that there is more of a “que sera sera” way of looking at things.

3. Good Food Makes All the Difference

I think sometimes we forget that many of our problems can be solved by opening a good bottle of wine and sitting down with friends and family. Living in Italy over a period of a few months has taught me that it’s important to spend time with the people you love over a good meal, and that we all need time to decompress. Family is such a crucial part of the Italian lifestyle, and though I didn’t experience a giant Italian meal with my own flesh and blood, I did with a great group of friends. Also, I learned that there is always room for a bit of gelato at the end of a long day.

4. Every Day Is An Adventure

In the States, I think we are used to the idea that adventure will come to us—we’ll finally get that promotion that allows us to travel, we wait for the weekends so we can go out with friends. After being in Italy, it’s hard not to adopt a different mentality. Simply walking around your own city can bring on the best adventures. Whether it’s being stopped by an Italian leather maker who designs for Gucci and being asked to try one of his creations on or getting confused while trying to catch a train to Bologna, you will always find something to do or experience while you are here.

living in Florence
While living in Florence, Alex learned that walking around your own city can bring on the best adventures.

5. While Traveling, You Will Feel Alone Sometimes

 I’ve always prided myself on being someone who doesn’t need to be surrounded by a giant group of people most of the time in order to feel happy. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is read without the distractions of talking to others—many times I need to have some time alone in order to think. However, I found that living as an expat in another culture can be incredibly isolating sometimes. When you only have a rudimentary knowledge of the language, it can be hard to meet new people and to develop the kind of friendships you might be used to in your hometown. It took some time, but I now have some connections with some interesting friends and will be excited to see them when I return.

6. Trust Your Inner Voice

When I first decided to come to Italy, I was mostly thinking about how I could get out of my small town in the States and do something differently from what I was currently doing. I didn’t know that it would open a lot of doors for me career-wise or that I would end up traveling to some other places as much as I did. I’ve learned more than ever to trust your gut impulse and to continue doing what you love because eventually it will work out. There’s a reason you set out on this journey—you just may not know it yet. By trusting yourself and your inner voice, you can end up having the adventure of a lifetime.

 

 

Six Lessons I Learned while Living in Florence


Six Lessons I Learned while Living in Florence

About Alex Schnee

Alex SchneeAlex is a traveler, journalist, and author. She eats a lot of pizza.

2 thoughts on “Six Lessons I Learned while Living Abroad in Florence

  1. Avatar
    Denise
    July 17, 2014
    Reply

    Alex, I love what you learned living in Florence! And I agree that it is often the simple things that make the most difference in our lives. How wonderful that you have had this opportunity and that you have discovered truths that are probably pertinent to us all. Thanks for sharing them with us, it’s a pleasure for me to have had a little glimpse of what your experience has been,
    fondest thoughts,
    Denise xxx

    • Alex
      July 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Denise! You are always so kind. I’m looking forward to seeing you this summer and having some time to chat. 🙂

      Alex

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