Well…this is it. In precisely 3 hours I will be getting on a bus to take me to the Rome Fiumicino Airport to head back to the States. Today has been a long day of finals, walking around Perugia, eating Pizza Meditteranea, shopping the Christmas markets, watching the sunset, and going to the Farewell Festa for the very last time in Italy. While these past two weeks I have been going back and forth on feeling sad or happy to go home, tonight at the Farewell Festa the emotions definitely hit me. It was a time for all of us to get together and say goodbye for one last time. We were all holding up pretty well and were having a great time, and of course I was the first one to crack and start crying (thank God for waterproof makeup).
But as I was crying I didn’t just feel sad that this was coming to an end. I was also crying because of how happy I was that this actually happened – I actually lived in Italy for 4 months, I actually met and made friends with people all across the U.S. and different parts of the world, I actually traveled to 5 European countries and 13 Italian cities, and best of all I have actually learned what it feels like to put yourself out there and be truly independent.
All of the adventures I have had and the memories I have made will be impossible to forget. I remember arriving to Italy – all of us meeting each other for the first time, totally exhausted – and yet being in awe and going through the ‘honeymoon’ stage that everyone experiences when they first arrive to a new city. In the second week, the homesickness kicked in and things got more difficult – there were definitely times of frustration throughout semester. Between the late trains, the strikes, papers and midterms, presentations, or the sketchy people, there were times where I felt so sure that I wanted to go home and coming to Italy was a mistake. However, the weekends of traveling with friends, the great classes with the great teachers, and just allowing myself to realize that I’m living in Europe changed that. I became so thankful for the opportunity I was given. And right when I feel like I finally got the hang of things and have adjusted pretty well, it is time to leave.
If any of you reading this are questioning whether or not you want to study abroad – don’t question it. Just do it. I questioned myself SO much throughout my college years, going back and forth of whether or not I was going to go, even putting it off until my senior year thinking that I was going to eventually choose not to go. Hell, before coming here, I’d barely been outside of the state of Pennsylvania and had never ever flown. But despite this, something in me told me I had to do this. In high school, when we would do “icebreakers” in the beginning of the year to get to know one another, a question that always came up was, “What is a dream you have for the future?” My reply was ALWAYS live in Italy for 6 months. At the time, I always speculated that that was always going to be a dream – one that I wouldn’t truly push to come true because I was scared. Yes, I didn’t live in Italy for quite 6 months, but I think 4 months is damn near close enough. This semester was the scariest, yet most incredible and rewarding experience of my entire life. It has made me become a better person and has changed my life forever. Now I know there is so much more of the world to see than little ole Pennsylvania – so once I arrive back in the States within the next 24 hours, I intend on getting started on planning the next adventure.
Arrivederci Perugia. Ti ringrazio for the best experience that I will never forget.