Saturday, December 15, 2016
Dear Family and Friends,
I've officially completed (and survived) my first semester abroad in Milan! The semester that I had anxiously been anticipating for so long has come to an end and I'm half way done with my year abroad. The phrase, "Time flies when you're having fun", has a lot of truth behind it...
Yesterday I had to say a lot of goodbyes. Not to Italy, but to all the friends that I have made this semester who are unfortunately not staying for a full year as well. It was strange to be on the other side, knowing that I still have an entire semester ahead of me, while almost everyone would be waking up in America today. Part of me is a little sad that I won't be going home till May since I do miss all of you a lot. But I'm still very happy with my decision to stay for a year. I'm not ready to part ways with Milan, a city I have fallen in love with during these past few months. The unfamiliar streets have become my home away from home. The Italian culture has become normal. I can even confidently have a conversation in the language. I finally don't feel like I'm only studying here, but that I'm also truly living here. Being able to make my way around the city without using Google Maps, knowing where to go to find the best gelato and how to use the metro without thinking twice, are just a few of the things that will make next semester a lot easier.
I must admit, this semester has definitely been challenging. While I was meeting many new people, I was also in the process of re-meeting myself. Studying abroad took me out of the bubble that my university at home can often feel like, and showed me the amazing possibilities that lie beyond the comfort of familiarity. And when you move half-way across the world, to a foreign country where you know absolutely know one, it can be a little bit intimidating. I had to become even more comfortable in my own skin and truly learn to understand what's important to me. I couldn't just jump on a plane and quickly fly home to my parents when I was struggling with something. I've had to learn how to trust myself and be confident when making decisions on my own. Of course my parents are always only a phone call away, but with the time difference being a huge barrier, living abroad introduces a new level of independence. Many challenges pushed me to what I thought were my limits at the time, but now looking back, these "limits" served to show me what I'm capable of and not to underestimate my strengths.
In the end, I would not trade these experiences, even the challenging ones, for anything. In three short months, I have learned more about myself than I would have in any other way. I've gone on many unbelievable adventures, with the greatest people who I'm so thankful to have met. I've gained new perspectives and a new appreciation for the world. I've learned what it means to be a global citizen and that many issues out there deserve a lot more attention (see here). I've only touched such a small percentage of the world and it's exciting to know that I will continue to set foot in many new places.
I have to thank all of you, new and old friends, for supporting me throughout this semester and making home not seem so far away. And of course my family, for being there no matter what, even if it meant getting up at 6 am to talk to me. Most importantly, thank you Milan, for welcoming me in this semester and showing me all that you have to offer. My adventures are not over yet, and I can't wait to see what the next 5 months have in store.
See you soon-ish,