Well, it’s the final countdown. This post was brought to you from the comfort of the cathedral steps as tomorrow morning, I will catch the most depressing bus ride of my life as I leave my beloved Perugia.
Today I finished packing and cleaning up the apartment. I also took several last walks down Corso Vannucci, each with a different person – Bri, Kristen, Annie – and each time I came back, I found more and more Umbra kids on the steps. I love that you can pretty much always come outside and find someone you know.
I also got my last hot chocolate (which is like a cup of melted chocolate, it’s so thick), and got my last cup of gelato from that place across from Umbra (bacio & fragola, if you’re curious). Annie and I sat in Piazza Italia for a while talking about the semester, and it took everything in me not to start crying because I’m going to miss it so much.Four months ago today, I texted my friend and told her that I thought I was going to die and that I was terrified of coming here. And now here I am, four months later, wishing I could text her to tell her about how I thought I was going to die of heartbreak, for I fell in love with this beautiful country, and that I didn’t want to come back.
But now, I’ve made a ton of new friends from all over the states that I hope to keep in touch with after we’ve all gone home. I’ve traveled to ≈25 different cities in 3 countries. I’ve tried foods like ox tongue and snails, and even had a “waiter’s choice” meal because I couldn’t decide (I did give him 2 pick from, though). I’ve learned a new language, and indulged myself in a new culture, a new lifestyle – where no one is on time, water and bread at restaurants isn’t free, and stairs are abnormally sized and always in abundance.
I feel like coming abroad was very selfish. I did what I wanted to do, what would make me happy, spent way more money on souvenirs for myself than for everyone at home. But if given the chance, I would do it all again and I wouldn’t change a thing. And I suggest you do the same. Studying abroad is going to change you. The time you take here for yourself is just going to make you grow as a person, and you are going to learn so much more about yourself: who your are, who you want to be, and what you really want out of life.
So if you decide to make the same choice I did – to study abroad, whether that be in Italy, or Spain, or New Zealand, or even Philadelphia - take this advice:
- Pack only what you think you need – then take half
- If you don’t speak the language, try anyway, even if you butcher it. You’ll be surprised to find how kind and patient people will be just because you are making the attempt
- Immerse yourself in culture, no matter how different
- Open your heart and your eyes to new people, new places, and new things. Take chances. Be adventurous. Push your limits. & get out of your comfort zone.
- Take advantage of every moment. I can’t stress this enough – when you feel like doing nothing, do something. You’ve been given this opportunity; don’t waste it.
- Document everything – take pictures, keep a blog, whatever! I’ve got these blog posts to look back on, but I also took a lot of pictures this semester (ask anyone in the program!). I’ve taken about 10,000 pictures this semester, and I honestly wish I took more because I know when I get home, I am going to spend my summer flipping back through them all and remembering what a great experience this has been.
But before I left, I really wish I had known what an impact this place was going to have on me. I wish I’d known that this place was going to make itself my home. Tomorrow, my time here in Italy will come to an end, and I will be coming back to the states. Four short months ago, I was terrified of leaving home; today, I feel exactly the same way.
I’m glad to be coming home and seeing all my family and friends – but these people are my family and friends, too, and Italy is a chapter in my life I will always be able to return to. It’s been real. It’s been fun. It’s been real fun.
But honestly? It’s been something unpredictable, but in the end was right. I had the best time of my life. Ci vediamo, Perugia. Until we meet again.