My last day in Rome is finally here. Forty-two days sounds a lot longer when you are waiting to board a plane to a foreign country than when you actually live through it. I am excited to go home, but very sad to leave this country. But on the pros and cons list of leaving, Wawa hoagies are a pretty big item so it’s not that bad.
Before I left for Rome, I was reading humorist David Sedaris’ book Me Talk Pretty One Day. Sedaris lived in France for an extended period of time and I remember this quote in particular about his experience: “Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world.”
Although I cannot say I consider myself to be a “citizen of the world” without laughing at how pretentious I sound, studying abroad has changed me. I usually rush through life, getting one task done and immediately moving on to the next. Italians are not like that. Shops close down for several hours so people can go get lunch. Eating is not just a meal, but a two or three hour event. People have months of vacation time. Life just moves slower (though the language doesn’t).
It was a much-needed change of pace. On Monday, I head to my first day at my internship. Switching from classes on art history or discussing gender roles from an international perspective to an eight-hour workday will be strange. Part of the reason I came to Italy was so I wouldn’t have to have an internship, but here I am with just days separating my cubicle and me. As much as I have loved Rome, I am ready to start working. It was a great, relaxing way to finish 7 credits worth of classes, and I will still have a valuable internship experience that saves me from returning to my old high school job.
Studying abroad taught me patience (check out my post on TreeBar), culture (check out my post on art history), understanding (check out my post on… well, I don’t really have one for exactly that), living without constant access to technology and dozens of other lessons. I definitely developed my empathy for non-native English speakers. People here are great with helping out English speakers. The mentality is so much more accommodating than in America (I’m looking at you, Geno’s Steaks).
I hope to someday make it back to this wonderful country and further sand away those “provincial edges” that Sedaris talked about. Forty-two days is not nearly enough to discover everything the city holds, but I am fully satisfied with my time here. Studying abroad is something I absolutely must recommend. I have several friends studying abroad in Italy this fall, and I am extremely jealous that they have a full semester here. There are very few times in life you can put everything on hold and head to another country. College is one of these times, and I am glad that I will never regret this experience.