The first few weeks have honestly been a blur. In the blink of an eye I spent way over my personal weekly allowance, ate more than an acceptable amount of gelato, and have yet to get on top of my schoolwork.
I walk around with people I am still trying to get to know, I aimlessly wander to places I have not seen, and I find myself constantly out of time to do the things I used to love most: running, reading, and cooking. But in reality, aren’t these the things I should be doing abroad? Shouldn’t I be exploring with no agenda? Being so tired that I pass out the second my head hits the pillow? The thing I have finally started to realize is that my routine at home that I grew so accustomed to, is not a routine that I need to do for the rest of my life in order to feel comfortable. I wanted to come abroad to a program where I knew no one in order to be my own person, but to do that I need to step out of the comfort of going through the motions and actually experience new things in a new perspective.
The trick to truly going out and experiencing new things is to stop trying so hard to do the old things. For me, I realized I don’t have to run everyday and can just walk around and hangout with different people everyday. I don’t have to carve out time to run by myself, but rather I can talk with people and engage in conversations that running would have prevented me from even starting. I can cook, but I can also cook a single dish and go to a potluck dinner. I can actually get on top of my school work and read about the history of fascism in Rome, and go beyond the assigned readings. I can go to a local market and find a book in Italian to help me immerse myself into learning the language. Everything I once did can still play apart in my life and be a major aspect of my transition from comfortable to a comfortable uncomfortable.
So, how does forgetting about an old routine actually help? Well, on Monday I told myself that I was genuinely in Rome and wasn’t leaving. This meant I really needed to generate some kind of routine if I wanted to get as much out of this experience as I possibly can, while still having money. This week is the first week I have felt good about everything. I have a set day to go grocery shopping (and I won’t deviate—groceries for the week gotten on Sunday are all of the groceries for the week that I will have), I exercise by either running with friends or walking a lot after class with friends, I cook with roommates, and I set aside time to be by myself and either do homework, grab a gelato, or people watch in Villa Borghese. All of these things really do make a difference if you give them a chance. My advice is to keep doing the things you love, but do them with a new perspective and a new attitude.