The semester is winding down, with a only week left until I leave Milan. This, of course, means finals week is fast approaching. I have to say that as much as I love it here, being abroad unfortunately doesn’t make the end of the semester any less stressful. It feels mostly like finals week at home, except that it’s impossible to find anywhere to buy index cards. How else am I supposed to memorize fourteen weeks of verb conjugations? The good thing is that I finally found Ben and Jerry’s after an entire semester of searching, which has made the past few days slightly easier.
I have to admit that I’m really surprised by how ready I feel to go home. I thought at the beginning of the semester that I would have to be dragged on to the plane back to JFK, kicking and screaming, but I’m actually looking forward to returning back to the States. When I first realized this I felt guilty in a way, as if my excitement about going home somehow is incompatible with my appreciation for all of the wonderful opportunities that I’ve had over the past four months. After some thinking and writing, however (and a good deal of sleep), I realized that I can both look forward to new opportunities after I return home and still fondly look back on the memories that I’ve made.
Another reason I’m looking forward to returning home is graduation. I’m currently a second-semester senior, which is a bit unusual for study abroad programs. However, I am completing a dual-degree program so I will return to school this fall for one more semester. Unfortunately there’s not really a celebration for December graduates; it’s basically “here’s some dining hall cookies and your diploma, enjoy the real world.” So less than 48 hours after getting home I will be in my cap and gown, jet-lag and all, on the football field with my class for commencement. I debated about whether I wanted to stay longer in Italy or come back for the ceremony, but ultimately I decided that I wanted the memories and the closure of going through graduation – another factor was the soaring cost of travel as you enter the tourist season.
I ended up transforming my guilty feelings into a more positive light: I feel ready to go home because I’ve accomplished everything that I wanted to. I’ve gone on many trips, visited six different countries, seen incredible artworks ranging from the Mona Lisa to the Sistine Chapel, attended three operas and over a dozen concerts, played with a professional orchestra on a Baroque violin from the 1760′s, eaten duck and octopus and my weight in pasta, and made friendships that will last a lifetime. Plus, now I can speak Italian almost fluently, read a subway map like a pro, and survive for a week with one tiny EasyJet-approved duffel bag.
Now I just have to figure out how to get everything home…
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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);">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>