After spending four months in Italy, it felt heart wrenching leaving a whole new life behind. On my first day in Rome, I went with a group to throw a penny into the Trevi Fountain. I had no idea how to get back to my school from there, let alone my apartment. I remember having to figure out public transit with my now friend Eleanor because we both had no idea how to get home. As my program developed, I gained a real sense of comfort from the environment I surrounded myself with. Reflecting on my first day in Rome, this feeling seems crazy because of the foreignness that I had first experienced. I never thought I would develop strong roots in a place so different from anywhere I had ever lived before.
Arriving back to Italy after a trip to Spain, I glimpsed this first element of comfort. Don’t get me wrong; I had an amazing time on this trip. I had greatly enjoyed staying with my friend Sawyer, speaking Spanish with others, and returning to a country I had visited before. Still, I was navigating my travel by myself in a place that was quite unknown. After touching down in the Fiumicino Airport, I associated home with Rome for the first time. Stepping onto the train to eventually arrive back to my apartment enveloped me in a feeling of safeness that would grow from then on.
From then on, I experienced little joys that highlighted this comfortable existence in Rome. The friends I had met in my program would all get together during lunch time to go get food. Places around the IES Abroad Center like Pizza Romana or Salumeria became famous in our program for their amazing pizza or sandwiches for a low price. We would even rally others into coming to get gelato nearby at Fridgidarium or Gelateria del Teatro, where artisan gelato, some of the best in the city, became commonplace. I also began some spots on my own. I had come to savor some of the best coffee of my life that lingered just around the corner from the IES Abroad center. I can’t help but mention the cappuccino breaks I would take between classes that were often mixed with people watching on Via Dei Coronari.
Also, while the distance of my apartment from the IES Abroad Center was at first an annoyance, it became comforting as well. I had so many moments of needed solitude during my commute to and from school. My Wednesdays specifically, I wouldn’t have class until 2:30PM, so I would be able to wake up slowly, get groceries in my neighborhood (shoutout Balduina), and do some extra homework before going to class by myself on the train. In addiiton to this, a few girls from my Italian class lived in the same building as me. We quickly became friends, sharing the commute back together talking about the funny or upsetting elements of our days. These people became some of my closest friends in the program because of this.
Therefore, after creating such strong connections to Rome, a part of me feels like I’m leaving something behind. The experiences I had were unforgettable because of how special they were to me. The people, food, and energy that I had experienced made leaving very difficult for me; I found myself in tears in the cab to the airport. However, since my first day when I threw a penny into the Trevi Fountain, I know that my return is guaranteed.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Anastasia Hernando is a student at the University of Michigan, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She is currently working on writing her Political Science thesis on labor rights of the textile industry. Her passion for human rights motivates her to learn more about government and philosophy while studying abroad in Rome, Italy during Spring 2022. Additionally, her interest in social media and business excite her about her opportunity to share her experiences as a IDEA Correspondent.</p>