This is written by Rachel Mason who is Global Experiences location coordinator in Florence, Italy.
Starting something new is always a little bit frightening and a little bit exciting. It is the same mix of emotions for starting new jobs, studying abroad, or even just picking a new major in college. For me, most recently, I felt this way when I learned I would be the Location Coordinator (LC) for Global Experiences’ Florence program.
I was totally thrilled and totally nervous at the same time. I wanted to do well, to be able to show my group why Florence is one of the best places in the world and I wanted to fill the huge shoes left behind by the previous LC. In the month leading up to my first group’s arrival, I spent countless hours thinking of and planning events and fun cultural excursions for them. I poured over every detail, wanting everything to be perfect. In my mind, I imagined over and over what it would be like for them to feel the uncertainty and trepidation of living in a new city and how I could best help and assist them.
It turned out that my hard work was totally worth it because my first group of interns were amazing. They were inquisitive, dedicated, smart, culturally curious and excited for every activity I organized. However, in all my planning to help them, I never once thought about how the experience would affect me.
Florence is a gorgeous place, full of world-class museums, food, architecture and history, yet living here every day, you can easily look past all that and just see traffic, long lines, and other mundane aspects of ordinary life. Having my group of Global Experiences interns to explore the city with encouraged me to see Florence through their fresh eyes. They helped me to rediscover the place I love and now call home - Suddenly I was seeing the magnificence of the Duomo for the first time and reveling again at the quaintness of the Oltrarno neighborhoods. I tasted the true magnificence of a Neapolitan pizza as if I hadn’t eaten it a hundred times before and savored every drop of wine. Unexpectedly, my students had breathed new life into a city I already loved but at times forgot to appreciate. They reminded me every day why I love my life in Italy and they encouraged me to be thankful.
At the end of their time in Florence, all my planning had paid off; my interns had a wonderful time and grew so much as individuals. Yet, for me, it was all the things I didn’t plan and couldn’t have imagined that made the experience truly unforgettable.