A Postcard From

I felt betrayed. I didn’t even check, because I knew. The second I took that fateful step onto the raised stage, I felt the snap. I heard it too. 

I had ripped my pants. I could not believe it. 

One sleeve of my jacket came off and then the other. They  were quickly tied around my waist to create a shield in the packed nightclub. 

“Very cool, good job,” I nodded to myself. “No one will notice.” 

And I was right, no one else noticed. 

The loud music kept playing, aggressive lights kept flashing and so I just kept on dancing with the group of girls I had recently befriended. 

The concern of exposure dwindled as more songs played and the evening continued. More Zags arrived and took the big step onto the raised stage. I watched with anxiety and then jealousy —  their pants didn’t rip. 

 I stared at that stage for a while. “OK I’m fine,” I thought to myself, “What are the odds that they …  holy crap.” 

Once the anxiety had passed I couldn’t help but laugh in disbelief. I didn’t just rip my pants: I had ripped them twice.  

Since then those jeans have been benched.  

And that’s what one night of my semester abroad looked like. 

Other moments have been watching the sun set over the Tuscan countryside on top of a medieval tower. Or cheering with 40 other 20-year-olds when Auris, a woman who works in our pensione, announced that the fruit of the day was cake. Or when I didn’t want to pay for a public restroom in Pisa and consequently got locked in it during its self-washing and disassembling process — that one was kind of scary. 

Nearly one month into Gonzaga-in-Florence (GIF), I have accumulated many little moments like these.

These little moments that seem fleeting or insignificant are the ones that bring honesty to an experience that sounds as romantic as “studying abroad.” Because it is romantic most of the time. I am living in Florence, studying language, literature, art and history and traveling. But sometimes my pants rip. 

But it is in the combination of these beautifully true, unfortunate and comedic moments that bring character to my time abroad. 

Many have come before me on this semester abroad as the program is in its 54th year. To the alumni of this program, I hope this column serves as a window to your own time spent in Florence and offers you stories far and familiar from your own. 

I hear once you arrive in Florence, you spend your whole life trying to get back. Here’s a cheaper ticket. 

And for the community that has not studied with GIF, welcome abroad. 

I am excited and honored to be sharing stories of my travel in this new column for The Bulletin entitled, “A Postcard From.” I will send a journalist’s version of a postcard home to a community I thank and love. 

My philosophy for this column and this experience is to blend journalism and creative nonfiction writing. I do not want to be complacent in this opportunity I have to ask people questions, to see and consume a city as it is and to write.

I hope you enjoy. 

Arcelia Martin is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter:@arcelitamartin.