Now that the finals are done, I can finally relax and enjoy my last few days in Milan. Living in Italy has been an incredible opportunity that I'm sad to see go. I remember how nervous I was before moving and how removed I was from the reality of life outside of America. When I arrived it was like, "OMG, I'm living in Milan for 4 months." Then time sped by in the blink of an eye, and I was like, "OMG, my 4 months in Milan are over." After so much time here, things that were difficult to adjust to are now part of my daily routine. I use public transportation everywhere, can converse in Italian, and always remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store!
The hardest part of returning home is saying goodbye to your friends. For a full semester, you developed, studied, and traveled alongside these people. We only knew one other for a short time, but we will remember the memories we made abroad forever. I'm grateful for the friendships and connections I've formed in Milan and can't wait to see them again somewhere else in the world. However, I am relieved to be returning home. My time abroad has burnt me out, and I want to go home to rest and eat home-cooked meals. As Thanksgiving passed and the holidays approached, I felt more homesick, and I was ready for my time in Italy to come to an end.
I had said my goodbyes to everyone the night before and had reserved an Uber for 7:00 a.m. There were so many IES Abroad students at the airport, and we were all boarding the same flight from Milan to JFK. It certainly put me at ease since, even though I was traveling alone, we would all be facing this long flight together. All I could think about on the plane was how strange it would be to stay with my parents after living independently in another country. But after I arrived and my family was reunited, I felt delighted to be home!
Since being home:
Coming home for the holidays, I've answered all of the normal abroad questions from friends and family, but it still doesn't feel real that I'm back in the States after living in Italy. It's as if those four months never happened, and everything has returned to normal. I knew it would be difficult to adjust to my normal life at home, but reverse culture shock is real. This is the stage at which you feel that some features of your home culture are unfamiliar or difficult to adapt to. But I remind myself that it's normal to feel disoriented and that I should give myself some time to settle in. Being at home also brings up an array of mixed feelings. I feel a mix of excitement to be home, sadness to leave my temporary home, and anxiety towards the future. But I’ve got to embrace these emotions and remember that it is normal to have conflicting feelings during a transitional period.
I’m so incredibly thankful to have spent a semester in Milan! I'm looking forward to going to Amsterdam for the spring semester after I've finally gotten used to being back in America.
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I am a Gender Studies student at Skidmore College :) I'm a graphic designer for Lunchbox, a lovely school magazine incorporating fashion, art, and writing. I also love to bullet journal, listen to music, take photos, create art, and dance!