I went home for the holidays. The only snow I was likely to find in Rome would be the glittering leftover of Saturday night revelry smashed on the cobblestones. Weigh the shards of a Peroni bottle against a million Minnesota snowflakes.
I had a relaxing holiday, but was surprised by the ferocity of my reverse culture shock. I suppose you don’t realize how much you have changed until returned once more to the original environment; when you are the dependent variable in the study abroad experiment objectivity sort of gets tossed. I feel more mature, more capable of handling diverse situations and challenges, of being able to adapt myself, my mind, my behavior. And I am eager to suck the marrow out of life. This newfound maturity in turn persuades me that I may feel mature now but I’ll probably look back down the hill in a year and shake my head at this small, underdeveloped person. That’s normal, though, right? Time passes and we change and grow. Study abroad just catalyzes the process.
Before returning to the States my friends and I went to Vienna for a weekend to hear some opera (ironically Rossini), eat some Sachertorte, and see if the Christmas markets were worth all the hype. They are definitely worth all the hype. Here’s a video to show you what I mean:
Lots of famous and wise people, psychologists, and poets have had things to say about home and travel, things which become cemented in their cliché status even while seeming invariably to contradict each other.
“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.” - Christian Morgenstern
“We travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost.” - Ray Bradbury
“You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.” - Maya Angelou
We listen to these catchy quotes and nod our heads, humming politely in agreement and appreciation, but I don’t think we really understand what most of them mean, we just know they supply some type of worldly wisdom that we lack.
I got back from Vienna with soles bleeding raw and one eye twitching erratically from tiredness and an over-dry contact. But as I walked over the Ponte Sant’Angelo after midnight, stars picked out in points of light like so many brilliants, I felt the world grow close around me and in the next instant expand to some great unknown thing. Having crossed the Atlantic three times in the last five months it’s tempting to feel a little unsteady and lost. In that moment, though, I was comforted not by those many confusing maxims but by my own conviction that Rome felt like home, and I had come back to it.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I’m your standard artistic mutt, head on the ground, feet in the clouds, brought to you by a serious case of wanderlust. Small-town Minnesota girl, ex-expat of Singapore, international traveler, art history major, varsity fencer, opera singer, aesthetics junkie, curious soul, gelato votary, far from home at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, making distance and immersion my teachers during a year abroad in Rome, Italy. You can follow along as I happily consume art and carbs in la bella città, but be warned I might not stay in one place for long!</span></p>