Thousands of miles away, across the Atlantic, lies a land called Florence, Italy. I first discovered Florence through a uniquely boring documentary in my World Studies class in high school. The information, I had heard that before, but never had I actually seen the scenes of Florence! The city was forged from nothing but beautiful, golden-looking stones, bustling with color and culture at every statue. I learned about piazza's and how they were not, in fact, real Italian pizzas, but grand squares where the Italian citizens held festivals and carnivals and more! From that one boring movie, I decided I absolutely HAD to go. I searched for weeks for a travel company that sponsored trips to Italy and finally found Travel For Teens. My only obstacle: my parents. I made a power-point presentation and video of all the reasons I wanted to go and could go to Italy. I had been saving up my babysitting money and my lemonade stand money and all the other dollars and cents I could find in a bank account for years and had over four thousand dollars ready to go! My father, who had just recently seen the movie Taken (bad timing on my part!), urged me to change my mind; however I had already had my heart set on this adventure. There was no turning back. My parents finally realized that they could handle fourteen days alone with my brothers and made the arrangements. I nearly died of excitement! I told absolutely everyone I spoke to about my impending adventure. Soon enough, I found myself sitting on a plane for the first time in my life at the Richmond International Airport. This alone was an astounding experience! I had never imagined I would be able to fly over oceans in a giant metal box! Everything seemed impossible! I found myself bouncing up and down in my seat (much to the displeasure of the older passengers around me). Seat 16A was the first chair that had ever changed my life. Just 24 hours later I took my first breath of Italian air. The first steps I ever took on Italian soil will be ones I never forget. The city of Florence was so hugely different than anything one could ever see in the States I could hardly believe where I was. I felt like I had stepped onto another world, entirely! The people, the clothes, the building, and everything else simply took my breath from me. I felt like a real explorer discovering a city more grand than Atlantis. That night I tasted real gelato and my appetite for American ice cream has never been the same. I saw gypsies and the square where Michelangelo carted through the statue of David. I held a currency other than a dollar for the first time and I made friends from all around the world that I still keep in touch with. The best part about that trip was seeing the view of Florence from the tallest hill I could find. I took my favorite picture with my own camera and with that image took home a new part of me I never knew was there. This experience taught me to be brave and outgoing and that I really could do anything I set my mind to– that all of this and more was possible! I felt very lucky to have been able to travel across the Atlantic in a shiny metal box to a new world. I could write for days about how seat 16A was the first stepping stone into a new chapter of me.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.