Where is my wallet?
This post was written by Education Abroad Peer Advisor Stella Joo…
I had a three-day long orientation as soon as I arrived in Florence, Italy on the last week of August. The orientation covered many topics regarding academics, budgeting, health and safety, etc. One of the issues that the faculty emphasized the most was theft, especially the pick-pocketters in Florence. I still remember one of the faculty members telling us, “I hope you all go back home with the wallets that are in your hands right now”. At that moment, I just shrugged it off. I have never lost anything in my life, or had anything stolen away from me. Nevertheless, I should have taken that advice more seriously. My wallet was pick-pocketed during the second weekend in Florence.
After adjusting a bit to the Florence life, spending a week with my host family, I decided to explore. I went shopping in the city center of Florence with a couple of American students on the second weekend of the semester. I thought that I had all my belongings secured, zipping everything up in my backpack; I was very excited to explore the city and shop around. However, as a group of American students, we easily became a target of pick-pocketters. At one point, I walked into the dressing room to try on some clothes, put my backpack down, only to realize the zipper was 3 inches open. My heart dropped. This is what they were talking about.
I searched everywhere that I had wandered around that day. However, I was not successful in finding the wallet. I ran back home to cancel all my credit cards. After the call, I broke down crying because I felt so lost and abandoned. I felt betrayed, unwelcomed by the city of Florence. Soon after, my host mom came into my room to ask what was wrong. I told her everything that had happened, she grabbed the tissues and put me on the back of her motorcycle to drive me to the police office to report the theft. Towards the end of the semester, my roommate also had her wallet stolen. Whether it be a stolen wallet or a bad day being homesick, our host mom was always there to help and support us. After I lost my wallet, my host mom actually gifted me with a handmade wallet, which I am so grateful for and still keep with me today.
While you are abroad, it is so crucial to be attentive to your surroundings. You will be very excited to explore the city, but to the natives, it will be very easy to tell that you are a foreign student. The second week of Florence has definitely taught me that lesson. However, it has also taught me that there are so many kind people out there who will be willing to help you. My study abroad experience in Italy would not have been the same without my host family. If there is anyone considering to study abroad, please be careful but also make many relationships and enjoy!