It’s hard to believe I’m actually writing this post. This Sunday, November 4th, I’m celebrating my one year anniversary in Florence. Needless to say the year has flown by.

Here I am. Cuddled up on the couch with my cat, in my Florentine home. I hear the noises from the street. People chatting in Italian. I smell my neighbour’s lunch preparations. All this in the middle of the beautiful Santo Spirito neighbourhood. Every now and then I still have to pinch myself. I actually did it. And not only did I move here. I managed to concur Italian bureaucracy. I speak Italian. I made new friends from all over the world. I found a place to go horse riding. I made this home. I’m a very lucky bird.

Despite the achievements, it’s also a bit of a bittersweet anniversary. At times I miss Holland dearly. I miss my friends and family. With little nephew Levi being new to the latter, the feeling been stronger than ever these last 2 months. It’s hard to be away from the people I love and that have been there for me through good and bad. Especially if things are hard for them, I feel like I’m not the friend I’d like to be. Because I simply cannot be there all the time.
I miss bitterballen and a glass of red wine, on a Sunday afternoon in a bar with friends. I miss the easiness of speaking your first language and being able to crack (in my case usually pretty bad) jokes in that same language. I miss the life I used to have, because no matter if I’d go back or not, that life will never come back again. It’s a life I said goodbye to a year ago, when my parents waved me and Radja goodbye at Schiphol Airport. Too much has changed. I have changed.

This year has been about growth. About finding myself. About being myself. That is what Florence and Italy mean to me. There’s no weird looks when I laugh unstoppably and tears start running down my face. When I get pissed off about something, people will forget about it again. This is me. When I’m happy, I’m really happy. When I’m sad, I’m really sad. When I get angry, I get really angry. When I forgive, I forgive without holding back. There’s no filters and it feels liberating to live somewhere where people share that. Where I fit in.

A few months into my adventure I realised something pretty important. I felt proud. Of what I was doing. Of the steps I took. Of my own personal development and of learning a new language and making a new culture my own. It was the first time. I don’t remember ever really feeling proud before. Not when I graduated from university. Not when I put my depression behind me. Not when I got my driving license or when I did a good job at work. It’s always been about relieve. Being glad something was over or completed. This is the first time I doing something very challenging and I actually get to enjoy it. I get happy when I run into a friend at the local market and we decide to go for a coffee. I get proud when a taxi driver tells me my Italian is pretty good. I do little dances in my living room when I overcame another hurdle in Italian bureaucracy. My heart skips a beat when I pass by my favourite coffee place and they tell me they miss me and that I should come in more often. I skip down the steps of the language school after another few hours of digging into this language that I have embraced and want to truly make mine.

I’m happy. And proud. And happy. And proud.

Thanks to all of you for cheering me on, helping me out, being my friends, teaching the language. For laughing and crying and cursing with me. I’ll keep you posted on what’s up next. I hope to be releasing my future plans for my own business soon!

For now: buon fine settimana! And don’t forget to smile! Bacio <3

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