by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Running along the Arno before taking off

Today was my last day in Florence and I began it with a run along the Arno. During my stay home, I headed up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo for each of my morning runs. However, because it was a little chillier than it has been, I decided to stick to the centro (downtown area). When I arrived at the end of Ponte alle Grazie, I turned right and headed toward the Ponte Vecchio, which looked like it was lit up by the sun that was just coming up.

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Living in Florence :: Pausing to savor the moment

I was almost not going to go running during my stay in Florence because I had forgotten my iPod in France. At first, I was upset with myself because I hate forgetting things. Then, I realized that I could take my iPhone with me, which has all my music on it. I had only run with my iPhone on vacation, but I didnít realize how this change would end up being so rewarding.

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I love being an expat so much that I canít imagine not being one. I love how two cities that were foreign to me and have now become so familiar to me that I consider them home. I love how living overseas has opened me up, changed me, allowed me to grow, and stretched me to be who I was born to be. I love how I have learned to look past the surface. I love how I see people for who they are and not what they do. I love how communicating with someone doesnít involve only the words he/she says.

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Before returning to Paris for work almost four years ago, I kept my French in my back pocket. I pulled it out when I needed it, but kept Italian as my ďmainĒ foreign language for over 10 years. Nowadays, I have to juggle both French and Italian, and on a daily basis. I speak to my beau and my colleagues in French, I speak to my friends in Florence in Italian, and I write in English. It might not sound that difficult, but being fluent in two foreign languages is like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. It takes concentration, effort, and a bit of fumbling around.

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One of the most common questions Iím asked after I explain where I live is, ďArenít you going to eventually just pick one place?Ē The oddest part is that Iím never prepared for the question and rarely have a good answer. Iím usually surprised because I didnít know that I was supposed to pick just one place. I usually try to explain that I didnít plan my life to be split between two cities, but I do enjoy it.

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