It’s hard to believe, but the semester is finally over. It feels like it went by way too quickly! I finally got comfortable and it’s already time to try to readjust to life back home.
I’ve been back in Pennsylvania for a few days now and I’ve found myself filled with a lot of conflicting emotions. I’m happy to see my family and to return to everyday life, but I also feel like my world grew so much in such a short amount of time and I want to see even more. Studying abroad was an absolute privilege that I was lucky to be able to enjoy, but I suppose it’s natural to feel a bit greedy once you’ve stepped out of your hometown and actually seen more of the world. I don’t think I’ll be able to afford (nor will I have the time) to travel for a very long time, so it’s hard not to wish that the semester didn’t have to end. One day, I would really like to be able to return to Europe.
Now that I’ve had a few days to think about my entire experience abroad from the comfort of my bed (where I’ve been so jetlagged that I’ve been useless), I’ve realized that I’ve really learned a lot. When I’ve shown people the pictures I’ve taken, I’ve been surprised by the fact that I can answer people’s questions and actually get into a lot of the history, artwork, and people that I’ve learned about in my classes at IES. It’s not that I’m not accustomed to learning things at school (don’t look at me like that), but I’ve definitely developed a deeper appreciation for Rome by visiting these places in person and it’s motivated me to take much more interest in my studies than I might have from a classroom at home.
There are so many things that I’m going to miss about my life in Rome. I’ll miss my walk home every day that always took ten extra minutes because how do you not stop and gawk at the Pantheon when it’s only a minute away from your apartment? I’ll miss the food, which has forever ruined eating in the United States because it’ll never be as good. I will definitely miss the students, professors, Italian student companions, and the staff at IES who all helped to make Rome feel like a second home. I think that, even as the years go by and life goes on, I’ll probably always think of Rome as my home away from home, a place where I sincerely enjoyed being a part of the culture.
On that note though, I want to be honest and say that there were also hard times. While I initially thought of the distance between Rome and my hometown as liberating and exciting, the deaths of two of my family members this semester quickly reminded me that it’s not always easy to be away from home. Things happen and you can’t always be there. It can feel liberating to be far away from home, but it can also make you feel helpless during those times when you really ache for your support system. I have no regrets about studying abroad and I would do it again, but I think that it’s a good idea to keep in mind that there will probably be some tough days too. Looking back, I had a lot of anxiety about getting lost or not knowing the language, but I think that it’s hard to predict all of the things that could possibly go wrong - you just have to do the best you can sometimes!
Overall, studying abroad has been an experience that I’ll never forget and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to share this amazing journey with all of you through the IES Blog. I hope that my posts this semester were helpful, especially for those of you who are nervous about studying abroad. Thank you for reading!
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<p>My name is Charlotte and I'm a senior at Penn State studying Human Development and Sociology. I like traveling, baking, k-pop, rabbits, and collecting scrunchies!</p>