As I sit here writing this, I can’t believe that next week I actually leave for an entire semester abroad in Rome, Italy! The last three weeks have been a whirlwind trying to get everything together. Yet as I think about catching my flight, I’ve realized, per the popular phrase, I’ve caught some feelings too. Not about a person, but about leaving my home and comfort zone for somewhere completely and utterly new. But first, let me start with how I got to such a realization.
This summer I worked at my school, Haverford College, as their Diversity and Activism Summer Archive Intern researching the histories of race at the college. I stayed on campus until the second week of August, giving me a few weeks of rest and recuperation before I left for Rome. But boy, did I underestimate how much I still had to do to get ready!
To start, if you know me you know I wear my shoes out. If I have to staple a boot flap here, or superglue a sandal sole there, I do it if means I don’t have to go shoe shopping. But that also means every few years, I'm left with essentially no shoes that aren’t one misstep from destruction. 2018 decided to be the year and to the stores I went. I spent my first week home shoe-hunting like never before. With my trusty partner at my side, my mom, I went to store after store looking for the most comfortable, yet stylish shoes I could find. I did eventually get some great slip-ons, boots, sneakers, and sandals, but let’s just say when you go to the same shoe store three times in a week you get some funny looks.
Next came getting all the health-related stuff together. I have asthma, so that meant getting a yearly check-up in and making sure to get a four month supply of all my medication. I wanted to get this year’s dentist appointment done too and wow, was I hit with a surprise then! It turns out, I very unexpectedly had to get two of my wisdom teeth out just 2 weeks before I left. It’s a good thing Rome has a lot of soft pasta, because that’s exactly what I’m going to need for a few weeks.
After all the hustle and bustle of shopping and doctor’s appointments, oral surgery too, I finally thought I could slow down for a little bit. My brother leaves for his junior year of college this Sunday and in my head I had plenty of time to get ready after he was gone. But wait, I leave next week! That’s right, once the dust had cleared, I actually only had a week until my flight as my mom pointed out in an effort to get me to clean my room. Rome wasn’t just a dream anymore, it was soon to be a very tangible reality.
The shock of suddenly realizing I depart so soon got me thinking. Up until now, I was wholly focused on just planning for study abroad. Yes, I had imagined what the experience would be like, but I didn’t think too much on how it all will make me feel until now. I go to college only an hour away from home, and that means I go back home pretty frequently during the school year. But once I catch that flight, I’ll be away from my home and friends for almost four months. Like I said earlier, wow does that bring some feelings! I know I will definitely miss the comforts of being in a familiar environment, with my college being quite small and home so close.
What I’ve come to realize however, is missing my family and friends doesn’t mean I can’t have an amazing time in Rome! Studying abroad is not going to be a utopian paradise. While I know I will have great times, there will be some struggles in transitioning to living in Rome too. But the amount of insight and experience I will get from immersing myself in a culture different from my own makes it all worth it. When I imagine exploring the ancient streets of Rome, or learning about mythology in the place where it was actually written, my trepidation starts to fade. I remember why I applied to study abroad in the first place: to travel outside my comfort zone and soak in as much knowledge of the world as I can. I catch flights AND whatever feelings come with them. But that’s ok. Soon I’ll be saying Arrivederci America and Buongiorno Rome!
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<p>Hi! My name is Sierra Zareck, and I'm an English major with Political Science and Africana Studies minors. I'm a member of my school's Black Students League, Co-opinions Editor of our online newspaper, The Clerk, and a student worker at our cafe, The Coop. When I have some down-time, I love catching movies with friends, writing stories, or curling up with a good book. A fun fact about me is, even though I hadn't declared yet, I switched my intended major four times my first year of college. My sophomore year I ended up having to take English as a requirement and boom, an enthusiastic English major was born.</p>