“One of those flash epiphanies of travel, the realization that worlds you’d love vibrantly exist outside your ignorance of them. The vitality of many lives you know nothing about. The breeze lifting a blue curtain in a doorway billows just the same whether you are lucky enough to observe it or not. Travel gives such jolts. I could live in this town, so how is it that I’ve never been here before today?” -Frances Mayes
That is beautiful. It is exactly how I feel right now. A year ago, I made the decision that I was going to study abroad. Anywhere, I said. And so I picked a small town in Italy that I had never heard of. A month and a half ago, I flew thousands of miles to this little town that I honestly didn’t know much about, to this country that spoke a language I couldn’t speak, to live with a family I had never met. And yet…I’m in love. I love this place and these people and this life. You read about life in other places but you don’t realize that it actually goes on until you are in the middle of it. You do not truly understand how many wonderful places and people there are in the world that you don’t even glimpse. When you are curled up on the couch reading your favorite book, in the house you grew up in, you are content. When you are at your favorite coffee shop in your college town with your best friends, you think yourself content. And then your life changes and you are turned upside down and shaken until your brain feels muddled and messy and you have to spend the next 4 months reorganizing it, with all these new pieces that somehow must fit in. Nothing is like it was and it will never be again. You must reexamine your little place in this big world. This world that once seemed so small and now seems overwhelming vast. And overwhelmingly beautiful. And you suddenly feel like such a small part in it all.
Travel does give such jolts. Here I am. Halfway around the world from where I thought I belonged. And somehow it feels like I belong here, too. What if I had never filled out that application? What if I had never submitted that visa? Would I be sitting in my college’s library studying, perfectly content with my life, ignorant of so much that existed that I could love just as much?
How is it that I’ve never been here before today?
How many other worlds vibrantly exist outside of my ignorance of them?
I’m 20 years old. I hope this is just the beginning of my love story.
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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);">Ciao! I’m Mary and I’m blessed to spend the semester in Siena, Italy. I’m a junior double major in Psychology and English at Hope College in the charming West Michigan town of Holland. I grew up in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and love to go on adventures, have deep conversations, drink unnecessary amounts of chai tea, play the piano, become totally engrossed in books, and most of all—learn. I am very excited to be immersed in the Italian culture and beautiful language, learn to cook, and have the experience of a lifetime! I can’t wait to share my journey with you!</span></p>