I cannot believe how fast the time went – four months studying abroad in Rome is over. It is actually a great goodbye. Goodbye to new friends I have made, amazing food, professors, living in a dorm. Goodbye to everything that has become familiar over the past 4 months. I know that I can always come back to Rome, but these past four months have been completely unique and can never be recreated.
As I sit reflecting on my experience, trying to figure out how to describe my entire study abroad adventure, I can only smile. There are no words that could ever be strung together to even begin explaining everything that I have seen, heard, learned, and discovered about myself, others, and the world. I am also confident that I will not truly see how my time in Rome has affected me until I return home.
Now, to translate my smile into some sort of words. After dreaming about my semester abroad for so many hours and filling out countless forms and applications, my opportunity was finally here in August! I was headed to Rome. Since I had never visited the city before, I could only imagine what everything would be like from the neighborhood that I would be living in to my University and even the people that I would encounter. Everything was new and exciting! Now I cannot believe, after so much anticipation and preparation, that I am leaving this week. How can it already be over?
Even though the time seems too short, after reflecting on the amazing things that I have experienced, from visiting 7 countries to taking classes with such an eclectic mix of students and professors, I would not have wanted to spend my time abroad differently. I explored Rome and all of the history that it has to offer. I have never seen so many jaw-dropping pieces of art and architecture in my entire life including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Parthenon, the Palace of Versailles, and La Sagrada Familia. I even ate many different foods, not just in Rome, but in other places such as liver in Budapest and paella in Barcelona. It is even hard to imagine that I did so many things in such a short amount of time. And I continue to smile…
I smile because I know that I not only jumped into a scary, exciting opportunity, but I made it my own and also allowed it to impact me. I witnessed different cultures and simple things – kids playing with their parents, locals saying hello to each other, street performers, men fishing. All of these things have shown me life in so many ways. They have opened my eyes and given me a new understanding of the world and the life that I live. It will be great to go home and share my experiences with others. I hope that I can help others experience all of the wonderful things in their own lives while encouraging traveling as often as possible.
I have become more independent as well. Just this past weekend, I took a trip by myself to Siena for one last escape. I would have never imagined traveling alone, but it was actually very rewarding and a lot of fun. Now I know that I can do things by myself, i’ve realized that sometimes it might be the best way to go.
Again I smile, because I am reminded of all of the challenges that I overcame. Studying abroad is the farthest thing from rainbows, unicorns, and no homework. (Sorry to burst everyone’s bubbles.) There are numerous adjustments and not only those that come with a new language, city, and culture, but also small things like the measurement systems, unfamiliar grocery stores, a new public transportation system, not having a car, and the list continues. Learning how to handle everything that a new place throws at you is part of the experience and can be fun at times. For one, baking was an interesting challenge with the conversions and terrible oven leading to much laughter and semi-burnt lemon bars. The challenges just allow you to appreciate the life that you left behind to partake in the semester abroad. They help you realize all of the things you take for granted and put many of your daily routines and the people in your life into perspective. Even though I was very homesick in the beginning and it took a lot of time to adjust to life in Rome, I am grateful for the hurdles that I faced, because without them, I would not have realized how much stronger of a person I have become and I would not be as appreciative as I am today.
I see my time in Rome as one filled with accomplishment, change, and adventure. I have come to appreciate not only the opportunity to study abroad, but everything that it encompasses. All of the weekend trips that I took, the culture that I have embraced here, and my growing faith are just some of the many aspects that make up my study abroad experience. Studying abroad is not just about seeing as many things as possible or figuring out how to get out of doing homework, but rather it is about understanding everything that you see while away. Hopefully it will make even more sense as I return home and go back to daily life in New York, but for now I will try and make my last week in Rome as memorable as possible.
Now it is time for me to say hello again to family, old friends, and my normal routine. When I look back at my college years, I will never forget these four months and how interesting, frustrating, adventurous, and overall amazing they were. I can only hope to have more international experiences like this one. For now it will be so long, Rome and thank you for making my time here such a memorable experience. I will be back one day. Ciao!