Fair warning, this will be a rare quasi-serious blog post for me.
Among many small and insignificant fears I had before coming to Rome, I was a bit sad about the fact that I'd be away from my family for Thanksgiving. As I write, it has also been the longest amount of time that I have spent without seeing a member of my family (about 90 days). I am so blessed to say that it's been rare for me to feel lonely or sad during my time here. I have four great roommates, including my ISC, Gabriella. Sofia is from Barcelona- she's incredibly smart, bold, and hilarious. Sasha is from Russia, and is probably the sweetest girl I've ever met. Between Sasha and Sofia, there are probably a good 5-6 languages that they could both effectively communicate in, and yet they don't make me feel like a garbage person for only being able to speak or understand 1.75 languages. Hannah is from California, and much like me, does not speak 3 foreign languages. We do our best to represent America without totally embarassing ourselves. Hannah cracks me up, and we have taken turns being extremely ill and bringing cough drops/Ramen to each other. Finally, Gabriella, who I want to take home with me, who asks me why I don't stay in Italy next semester, who made me tear up at Thanksgiving, someone I am sure will remain my friend across the ocean.
I have been so fortunate to have these people in my life during my time abroad. IES Abroad so very kindly organized a beautiful Thanksgiving for us in the center auditorium. It was a wonderful experience to be able to enjoy such a familiar holiday with so many new people. Each apartment was in charge of bringing a dish- I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank-you to J.P. for gracing us with his presence and his scalloped potatoes, and Jenny and Alessandra for their awe-inspiring mac and cheese. Gabriella very kindly helped me figure out how our apartment oven worked and supplied me with vanilla extract, something that is all but impossible to find in Italian grocery stores. I supplied pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and Alexa made a beautiful dessert pizza. I am so grateful for all of the beautiful and talented cooks in our program. As the program draws to a close, IES Abroad Thanksgiving was a lovely way to reflect on the experiences we have all enjoyed throughout the program. At my table, a mix of American students, an Italian family, and a few Italian student companions, we decided to uphold the uncomfortable tradition of putting everyone on the spot and asking them what they are thankful for. A handful of responses: "My first Thanksgiving, having a family to miss, the opportunity to travel, the people I've met here in Rome..." Some people may say that I cried, but I would really classify it more as tearing up, or maybe allergies.
To finish off this sappy blog on a sappier note: Mom and Dad, I miss you every day and am so lucky to have parents as supportive of my goals as you both are. I love you and look forward to sharing the experiences that you have made possible. Thank you for making me the person that I am.