Back to Reality

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Elizabeth Benz
May 30, 2014

It’s been two weeks since I got back from Milan, and quite a lot has happened since then. I had about 36 hours to sleep and recover after my flight before it was time to drive down to Ithaca College for my graduation. Saturday was spent catching up with my friends and hearing about everyone’s plans for “the real world.” Then somehow, Sunday morning I managed to get myself into the procession by 8:30am, with my essential graduation accessory of a large Tim Horton’s coffee. No shame whatsoever. As I sat on the football field with my closest friends, I realized how glad I was that I pushed myself to come back for this milestone, even though I still have one more semester to go. It felt as though I had come full circle, and gave a sense of closure to my study abroad experience as well as the majority of my undergraduate career. I’m sure that sense of closure will evaporate quickly as I drag myself to my Tuesday and Thursday 8am classes next semester.

We were told in our “re-entry” seminar that going home would be more difficult than adjusting to life in Italy. In some respects this was true. I think the jetlag is much harder to adjust to returning to the states than going to Europe, and even last night I was inexplicably and fully awake at 3am. It was strange driving my car again for the first time, and even though it’s a tiny Corolla it was much bigger than most of the cars that would park on the streets of Milan. I’ve already slipped back into some of my embarrassingly American habits, such as going to the grocery store in yoga pants and sneakers at 10am. However, there are definitely some aspects of Italian life that rubbed off on me – most notably the food

Before I left Milan I bought a small Moka espresso maker, and it’s a good thing I did as I’ve unfortunately lost my taste for American coffee. The grocery store in our area has a large selection of authentic Italian foods, such as Arborio rice and Illy espresso grounds. I even found my favorite brand of biscotti. It’s helped the transition immensely to have a few tastes of Italy in the morning, and my family has been more than happy to be guinea pigs for my Italian cooking experiments. The mushroom risotto and crostata alla marmellata turned out surprisingly good, although still not exactly like my host family’s cooking.

I have yet to finish unpacking my suitcases, although that’s more out of laziness than nostalgia. It’s strange to know that I’ll be spending the next two months at home. My semester abroad has instilled a sense of wanderlust in me that I’ll probably never be able to shake – but for now, it’ll be good to go back to my roots and take the time to be thankful for all the wonderful opportunities I’ve had this semester.

benz headshot

Elizabeth Benz

<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);">Elizabeth Benz is a lifetime upstate New York resident who never takes the snow brush out of the back seat of her car. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she is a senior Music Education/Violin Performance major and Italian minor at Ithaca College. These three passions were intertwined on a life-changing trip in 2006 to the International Suzuki Method Conference in Turin, Italy, where she not only saw the communicative power of music across young artists from many nationalities, but also fell in love with the language and culture of the country. Eight years later she is fulfilling the promise she made to herself to return to Italy, after completing her senior student teaching practicum. She is particularly interested in observing the emphasis and importance placed on youth music and arts programs across Europe, and returning with ideas to inspire and support her own program at a future teaching job.</span></p>

2014 Spring
Home University:
Ithaca College
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