Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Arrivederci Italia

          Unfortunately, my time in Italy has come to a close.  Looking back, my study abroad program seems both long and short at the same time.  Long in that I've been away from the United States for over a month, but short in that in the spectrum of my whole life, I only spent one full month living in Italy.  The experience was unpredictable and unlike any I've ever had.  I wasn't a tourist, I was in the process of becoming a local.  I was in a foreign country, at first surrounded by strangers and completely unfamiliar with the language.  Upon leaving, I can honestly say I made many friends and am conversational in Italian.
          Something that I will always take with me from my trip was a quote that someone told to my roommate in Torino.  Her aunt that said, "life doesn't stop happening."  When you're traveling for five weeks, it's easy to kick back and think of it as an extended vacation.  Of course we got to travel on weekends and see magnificent things almost every day, but life really didn't stop happening.  I have friends who lost their wallets, got jewelry stolen off of their bodies, and got punched out for a bag of leftover pasta.   Every experience is a learning experience, and no matter where you go, life really doesn't stop happening.
          As for my classes, well just like at Drexel, a lot of information is packed into a short period of time, and you have to do your best to keep up with the pace.  I learned about the history of several centuries' worth of interior design in just five weeks, but the material was fascinating.  We got to take field trips usually at least once a week, and see first hand the types of design we were studying in the classroom.  And in my Italian class, I learned more Italian that I imagined I could fit inside my head in just five weeks.  Granted, having the whole country of Italy at my disposal to practice day in and day out doesn't hurt to reinforce what you're learning, but still.  But my learning didn't stop in the classroom.  I became extremely independent.  I learned how to navigate my way through Torino, through Italy, and now throughout Europe.  I feel more accomplished than I could have possibly imagined.  I booked all my own travel accommodations and have taken more trains than I can count, but I did it all myself, mostly.
          Studying abroad is an experience that everyone should have the chance to go through.  I have learned an immeasurable amount about culture, about people, about traveling, and about myself.  This has been a remarkable opportunity and one that I will never forget.  

Here I am on the first day of classes outside the school we studied at.

         Luckily for me, I still get to travel for a bit and unwind after what I can't believe already came and went.  Italy was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me, and I truly can't believe it's over.  But now it is on to the next thing, for life never stops happening.

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