I pride myself on having two contradictory qualities: I am extremely cautious with safety but I am absolutely a risk taker. I believe you can never drive too slowly when it’s raining, but if you want to drive all night on a spontaneous road trip, then I’m your girl. Both of these qualities influenced my decision to take a chance and spend the summer before my junior year of college in Italy.
My cautious side told me to choose a school-oriented program. I had never traveled to Europe and I figured it would be safer to have access to adults in my program that could guide me through the cultural transition. The school factor also allowed for one of my best friends, Meredith, to join me on this month-long program.
As excited as I was about the opportunity to study photography in such a historical city, the 20-year-old girl in me was more than giddy about the idea of meeting an “Italian guy.” The adventurous voice in my head told me that I would have to get out and meet the locals. I wanted to completely immerse myself in this new culture.
Meredith and I arrived in Florence in the beginning of June. The first five days or our program were planned out for us by the school administration so that we could begin to feel comfortable in this new world. We were a little uneasy at first because we lived in a two-person apartment farther away from the school than many of the other students. One of the administrators encouraged us not to worry and told us that pickpocketing was the only crime to be concerned about in Florence. By the end of the week we were feeling pretty at home in our new surroundings.
Finally, a weekend of freedom approached. We got all dolled up and went out to a snazzy little bar. That is where I first met him. He was either the cutest Italian boy I have ever met, or a creep with bad intentions. It has taken me over a year to accept that the second was probably the right description.
His name was Francesco, or so he said. He had baby blue eyes and tan skin. He was not the typical tall and dark Italian, but handsome indeed. Perhaps I felt comfortable talking to him because he didn’t approach me saying, “Ciao Bella,” like 90 percent of the other males in Italy. He asked for my number and if I would like to go dancing. The night was already getting late and, after a few glasses of wine, I was quite ready for bed. I happily gave him my international cell number and left with hopes that he would actually call.