As I write my final blog for IES Abroad, I am on a plane bound for New Orleans, the first city that I’ve ever loved. My classes will be starting soon, I’ll be busy searching for internships, spending the majority of my time in the library, and daydreaming about being back in Rome.
You never think you’ll get tired of walking past the Vatican every day, but then one day you don’t gape in awe, because it really does become a familiar sight.
You don’t think you’ll get sick of pasta, and you don’t, because it is the best food in the entire world.
I can write dumb blogs about my love for gelato all day, but I can’t make you understand what it feels like to sit and stare at the beauty of the Eternal City with a good friend and a cone of life-changing deliciousness.
I never put much stock into the idea of going abroad and changing as a person- I endlessly joked about becoming enlightened and cultured abroad, but even the self-deprecating humor couldn’t save me from the intoxicating effect that Rome seems to have on everyone lucky enough to spend time there. Before I headed to Rome, I thought of myself as the perfect candidate to study abroad. My parents instilled a passion for adventure in me starting from a young age- nothing luxurious or European, but cool adventures that make a kid crave more. I recently turned 21, and I really still feel like that kid. If there’s one thing I can encourage you to remind yourself every day that you’re abroad, it’s that you’re so lucky to be alive, to have your health, to have the money and the privilege to see the world. Although I went to Rome thinking that I had it all under control, that I was a great traveler, that I had goals to achieve abroad, I immediately realized that the experience would be a little different than how I had imagined/meticulously planned in my head. This isn’t to say that I’m not a great traveler (I am) or that I didn’t achieve anything abroad (I did), but you learn a lot about yourself when a nighttime bus dumps you in a Budapest metro station and you’ve got to figure out how to buy a ticket to get to a hostel on a street that you can’t pronounce- and that’s how I gave up trying to be in control of my situation.
If I could sum up the semester, I would wildly plagiarize the words of Dickens and say that depending on the day, it was truly the best or worst of times, but with a heavy emphasis on the good days. There was the time I got locked out of my apartment late at night, when I got bad news on a walk around the block and sat in the street and cried, when I got bronchitis for two weeks and all I wanted was my mom. There were bad days, no matter how awesome my Instagram looks. On the other hand, my Instagram isn’t far off. For every day I missed my family and friends, for every day I thought I might have made the wrong decision going abroad, there was a day I roamed around Pompeii, a day that I learned how to make gnocchi from scratch, a day that I stared at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel until my neck almost got stuck that way, a day I went to a wine festival, a day where I did an aperitivo with friends that lasted for hours…At the end of the day, study abroad is just the good and the bad of everyday life at extreme levels. Everything is new and different and can be incredibly exciting or incredibly disappointing. My only true regret is that I didn’t spend a year in Italy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who chose IES Abroad Rome Fall 2016, I hope I affected your lives as much as you touched mine.