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The other day I was finally sorting papers into a file cabinet under my desk and I came across a card written by one of my students from a few years ago. After a year abroad, she was heading back to New York, and I had watched her conquer her life in Florence with tranquility I rarely saw through my years at FIT. One of the first nights of the fall semester, I had taken a group to a cooking class, and we rolled gnocchi under the gaze of a big florentine woman with strong hands. On the way back, two girls dropped back and started to ask me questions about their new home. We stopped on the corner of my old street at the back of the Duomo, and talked so long, about everything, we saw their roommates as they passed on their way back out to the bars. From then on, those two were my favorites, really because they got it. They knew what they wanted out of their year in Italy, and they thrived.

I got the card in May that year. She handed it to me on her last visit to the office, a thank you for helping her through the months, for the chats, and the snuggles from Stitch, of course. Something so little, but it meant so much. Over the years I got a few cards from students, or messages on Instagram and they’ve all meant so much. I already saw these kids grow through their time here – and that’s honestly enough, but to have them recognize me as a part of just makes me happier.

The past two years away from the study abroad world have been wonderful in so many ways, but as my students get older, and I don’t have anyone younger under my wings, it’s almost like I have a bit of empty-nest syndrome. It definitely kicked in when seeing that card. At the end of my thirtieth year, I have a feeling I may be getting some new students soon, and I’m absolutely ready for them.

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