Chicken nuggets and Top Gun: Maverick: Finding balance in missing home and being present

Chiara Profenna
June 27, 2022

One of the most difficult parts of studying abroad is trying not to compare it to home. 

My life in Rome, Italy is different from the U.S. for a million reasons and it’s nearly impossible to not miss some aspects of home. But each time I think of complaining, I’m reminded of how limited my time is. 

Studying abroad is only a small part of my life, especially during the shorter summer sessions. I don’t want to waste my time with comparisons and FOMO, but sometimes, it’s impossible to ignore.

One of the downfalls is that it’s incredibly difficult to be satisfied when I’m constantly thinking about what I’m missing out on back home (air conditioning and Target supercenters). But ignoring these feelings doesn’t feel too great.

One way I’ve been able to find balance is through actively seeking out some comforts and enjoying them without feeling guilty.

Simple American comforts, like junk food and common pastimes are one of the best ways to curb homesickness.

It might be shameful to get a cheeseburger while all my friends get pasta or pizza, but if that makes me feel less homesick, I’ll do it. I’m not inconveniencing anyone by recreating some small aspects of home in Italy. 

Over the course of my program, I’ve considered my fleeting time in Italy and how well I’ve used it. Some students chose to explore the city each afternoon and travel each weekend, making the most of their time. Others, took on a more lax approach. 

During my program, I’ve found my limits and the best way to enjoy my time. I savored every minute I had whether I was getting gelato with friends, scaling the stairs of St. Peter’s Basilica, or sitting at home, watching American TV with Deliveroo (basically European Grubhub) on the way.

Every student has their own balance to life abroad and the trick is finding it.

When Top Gun: Maverick came out, it was all over my social media. In the U.S., I would’ve already gone to the movies to see it, so what was stopping me?

I found a friend and made it a point to have a good old America themed date. We had McDonalds at 5 p.m. and caught the movie at 5:30. Luckily we didn’t have to rely on our subpar Italian since the movie played in English. 

Half-way through the film, I forgot that I was in another country. It really doesn’t take much to feel like you’re right at home sometimes.

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Chiara Profenna

<p>Ciao, my name is Chiara and I'm a rising senior at the University of Portland studying English, computer science, and education! I work as a news reporter on my campus newspaper (and will soon be an editor as well). I am extremely excited to be studying abroad in Rome, Italy this summer and I can’t wait to gain experience and share my journey for others while doing what I love: writing.</p>

2022 Summer 1, 2022 Summer 2
Home University:
University of Portland
San Antonio, Texas
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