After a month of newness and a week of quarantine, I think living in Rome is just starting to sink in.
Let's backtrack a bit. Last week, I unfortunately tested positive for Covid. Thankfully, my vaccine and booster softened the blow, leaving me with only mild symptoms for a few days. This obviously wasn’t an ideal situation; I had to attend virtual class all week and cancel my weekend trip to Florence. However, this time in quarantine gave me ample time to rest, reflect and watch Netflix (specifically the most bingeable Brooklyn 99, which I highly recommend). I think now I can say that I’ve processed that I'm in Rome (duh).
My peers and I have agreed that the first month of being in Rome was a whirlwind. Figuring out public transit, dinner schedules, and grocery shopping was the least of it. In addition to culture shock, I found myself putting pressure on my experience as a whole, without even allowing it to begin!
Coming from a vigorous magnet high school and a top public university (Go Blue), I’m used to structure and discipline. Regarding school, work, or extracurriculars, I have learned that being a goal-oriented person is to my advantage. Personally, I find it quite satisfying to check off a box to feel like I’ve had a successful day.
In the midst of my adjustment period to Rome, I realized I lacked the familiar to focus on. More abstract goals have arisen, including some that can’t be completed through simple daily tasks. Without this structure, I began to put pressure on the best parts of this experience: weekend trips, learning the language, and meeting new people.
The biggest challenge embedded in these pressures was overcoming the fear that I won’t have enough time abroad. My brain was telling me that spending a weekend in Rome instead of traveling was a waste or having frustration learning Italian was stupid. I even found myself feeling held back when prioritizing one new friend over another.
After seven days in quarantine and a few long phone calls to my mom, I realized that I needed to have a little faith and a lot of gratitude. I have the time to explore the city and I also can plan the weekend trip. Thankfully, I have learned how to conjugate a handful of verbs in Italian. Plus, I have met amazing people so far and many more to come. I think I’m doing pretty well for someone who just moved to a foreign country.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that it has been an adjustment so far. I think that's what I expected when I was studying abroad, but it's more complex now that I’m here. I really need to make a mental shift into this different environment. Instead of clinging to my past understandings, I need to be open-minded, learning new approaches to my desired fulfillment.
Thankfully, my quarantine has now ended and I am feeling much healthier. I’m so excited for the future, mostly because of this new outlook I’ve adopted. I think if I just commit to the present moment, my study abroad will be successful no matter what.
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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>