I have been back in the U.S. for a few days now. My appetite is still trying to adjust to the conventional American meal times and my sleep schedule is a few days away from being back on track. Nonetheless, my body is smoothly and progressively acclimating to America, but my heart and my mind are having trouble keeping up.
The very same day I arrived, I found myself surrounded by my immediate family. My mother made me all of my favorite Dominican foods, and as I ate, I began to try and share my experiences with my mother, my sister, and my practically brother-in-law. But I found that never could there or will there be enough words to explain how much growth and change has happened as a result of my time abroad. Nor can I adequately express the excitement, the adventures, and the difficulties of the past five months. In the last few days I have frequently thought to myself that my study abroad experience was solely a dream, but I am comforted by the friends that I have made, the pictures, the memories, and the lessons learned that remind me that the past five months did in fact happen.
It is great albeit incredibly hard to be back in the U.S. I am struggling to keep my study abroad experience present in my everyday. In many ways, it seems as if nothing has changed here in the States, but I have. And thus, I am trying to figure how the person I am now fits into my life here.
Although I am now “home,” I have never felt more like a foreigner than I do now. It seems strange to me that there aren’t more motorbikes on the streets, that cars are not parked in any and every direction, and that there are actually paved sidewalks for pedestrians. It is also, and even more so, strange to me that everyone is speaking English. I miss speaking and hearing Italian. I miss the cobbled-stone roads and the church bells. I miss the way and the pace of life in Rome and I miss living in a museum. I miss the girls at Casa Famiglia (my internship site) and I miss my host mom and her delicious cooking. To put it succinctly, I miss Rome, my other home, and everything about it.
On Saturday, my mother handed me a twenty dollar bill as I was on my way out to pick up a few things at the store. I looked at the bill for a few seconds with much confusion. My mom picked up on this and asked me what was wrong. And I said, “this money looks weird.” I forgot we use dollars not euros here. A part of me is excited about not having to worry about conversion rates and obscene bank charges. But the other part of me, wishes that I had to do just this because then it would mean that I would be back in Europe again. I am so far away from everything that seems familiar to me right now, but slowly and steadily I am acclimating to life in the States.
Rome (and studying abroad in general) gave me an incredible gift by bringing out in me a courage I did not know I had. It enabled me to be at home in my own skin. For these reasons, and many others, my study abroad experience will continue to form and shape my present and my future. As I left Rome, I promised myself that I would not say goodbye to this eternal city. I knew I would and that I have to go back. So Rome, ci vediamo dopo! We’ll see each other later!
More Blogs From This Author
<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);">My name is Natalie Maria Reynoso and I am currently a junior at Wheaton College, Norton, MA where I study religion and psychology. I am a passionate Catholic and an avid reader and writer. I have always loved writing because it provides me with a way to better understand the world and my place in it.</span></p>