These past two weekends I was able to visit Santorini and Positano. While these locations are very different in many ways, their one great commonality is vicinity to the ocean.
Coming from Miami, something I strongly associate with home is the ocean. Throughout my program, I have definitely gotten homesick. Missing home meant missing the ocean, something that brings me joy and comfort. The presence of the ocean centers me; its sound and energy can be very meditative. Consequently, I’m grateful that I had the ability to travel to the ocean during my time abroad.
In both places, I spent ample time staring towards the horizon where the ocean and sky meet. This action was so grounding and simple, yet it made all the difference. The sounds of waves crashing on the shore mixed with the children playing in the sand really brought me to a place of tranquility.
Something unlike home was the temperature of the water. Both the Aegean Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea were much colder than the Atlantic. While this factor would normally deter someone from jumping in, it instead worked as an exciting reminder of where I am. Even with the commonality of the ocean, they both had differences. I loved the Aegean sea for its high salt content allowing me to float effortlessly. I loved the Amalfi coast because I was able to jump off a boat into the refreshing green water.
In addition to the ocean, I have had the opportunity to travel with great friends on both of my trips. I think sharing good wine and food with friends in these locations made it great. I loved talking about random subjects over dinner, like our hypothetical wedding dresses or the oxford comma debate. Even when my friend Jayde accidentally lost her suitcase, we worked together to find it, staying positive the whole time. I seem to also be learning a new definition of home, where people add to this joy and comfort like a place used to.
I never thought living in Rome would become so comforting. When I first arrived here, I had entered an unknown universe. I felt like I was looking off of a rocky ledge, where the waves were crashing, deep and domineering beneath me. Now, I feel like the ocean is light blue and calm, glowing as far as I can see. My little life has blossomed here and I’m just grasping a hold of my Italian! I know the best places for a sandwich, pasta, and coffee within 5 minutes of the IES Abroad center. Plus, the connections that I have made have been so meaningful. I have bonded with such amazing and supportive people in such a short amount of time. It seems so painful to leave after returning every weekend.
Sharing inside jokes or planning future trips with friends won’t stop here. I don’t think I had realized before studying abroad that I was the type of person who wanted to travel. Now, I feel like I need to travel as much as I can in order to see the world. This experience seems to have jump started an inner desire to travel more that was dormant within me.
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<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>