Luisa studied with us in Florence last fall and just had a reunion with her fellow alumni in California. She sent us a wonderful e-mail with pictures and her thoughts about seeing her friends all these months later. Read on:
As I sat at the airport in Philadelphia, I was filled with mixed emotions. I was so excited to be reuniting with a group of people I can call some of my best friends, but I was also nervous about the initial interaction. I was heading to Los Angeles for 10 days to visit 6 of my friends with whom I had studied abroad in Florence last fall semester. We had stayed in touch through text and via Facebook but I had not seen any of them since the tearful day that we left Italy 6 months before. It was a trip that had been in the works for months and the only thing that would be missing was the final member of our group who had been my roommate in Florence.
My initial apprehension completely disappeared the second I got off the plane. Not only was the friend I was expecting to pick me up there, but also another friend who we had studied abroad with! As I walked closer, my roommate (the only missing part of the group) jumped out from behind a pillar and threw herself into my arms. I was in absolute shock. I never thought in a million years that she would be there to surprise me, especially since it was her 21st birthday the night before and I had been texting her assuming she was at school back in Ohio. I was overcome with emotion and I knew in that moment that this was going to be an unforgettable trip.
After the airport, we headed to the house where the rest of the group was waiting. It was amazing to all be back together and it was as if we had just been apart a few days rather than half a year. We all went out to a big family style Italian (of course) restaurant that night and spent the evening reminiscing about our time abroad and making plans to go back. For the remainder of the trip, it was as if we were back in Italy. We played endless games of modified UNO (a game we had spent hours playing in Florence) and enjoyed ourselves in the beautiful California weather. When it came time to say goodbye, it was sad, but we all knew that this time there would be a next time. If we could all have a reunion on the West Coast after 6 months then anything was possible.
I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be reunited with these friends who I became so close with while abroad, but even luckier that nothing had changed between us. We all promised to stay in touch and as soon as we returned home, we started brainstorming our next trip. They say that study abroad will be the best time of your life; it was, but it was the friends that I met and stayed close with that made it that much more meaningful. Thank you AIFS for the memories and the amazing friendships that you helped foster!
-Luisa Dodds, Florence, Fall ’12
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