My favorite season, without a doubt, is autumn. I love the colors of the leaves, the crispness of the air, the clothes, the candles…the list goes on. I particularly love the holidays we celebrate in the fall. I’ve debated with myself for many years between Thanksgiving and Christmas, trying to decide which is better. Ultimately, I realized I love them both too much to pick one over the other – kind of a cop-out, I know, but it’s pretty close to impossible for me to choose.
This year was the first year I spent Thanksgiving away from my family. Thanksgiving Day in my home has its traditions: a football game in the morning, frantic cooking and cleaning in the mid-afternoon, followed by a visit from extended family members and an incredible, filling dinner prepared entirely and almost exclusively by my dad, who is an excellent cook. I love these traditions and I look forward to them every year (particularly the food). I feel like Thanksgiving is one of few days in the year when people reflect on what they have, and hopefully take some time to give back to their communities too. This year, my Thanksgiving plans were substantially different: instead of watching football and wearing cozy clothes at home, I spent about 5 hours in class. This did little to get me into the holiday spirit.
I haven’t had much homesickness yet, but missing out on one of my favorite holidays made me really miss my home, my family, and my friends. Feeling so down makes it hard to focus on what I’m thankful for this year – which is a lot! And while the ability to study abroad is definitely at the top of that list, it also presents me with challenging situations which sometimes make me forget how fortunate I am.
But this Thanksgiving, while sad to be away from home, I gained an even greater appreciation for my time abroad and the people with whom I’m able to experience it. I attended an amazing “Friendsgiving” dinner, joined a friend for a birthday celebration, and baked a pumpkin pie with my host mom -- to bring a bit of my Baltimore home to my Milan home. Though I expected to spend the day feeling like I was missing out, I was surprised: Thanksgiving in Milan made me feel even more a part of my communities, both the ones here and at home (FaceTiming my family during their Thanksgiving dinner, however, probably helped with that…).
And so, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I spent the next few days reflecting on my time here, which has already flown by. Without even realizing it, I have established a home for myself here in Milan. And as we race towards the finish line – faster than I’d like—I am understanding a new and different type of “homesickness”, if you can call it that: the nostalgia you experience for a place before you’ve even left. I have truly grown to love Milan, and while I’m excited to return to my family and friends, I’m not quite ready to leave.
With two weeks remaining, it’s time to embrace Milan to the fullest. This means it’s time to check off all those bucket list items I haven’t gotten to yet, like visiting Milan’s amazing aquarium, checking out the Armani Silos, and climbing to the top of the Duomo. My Italian professor said today to leave one thing undone—this makes it so you have to return. I’m not sure if I’ll follow that, but the only way to find out is to dive in!
Until next time,