It really amazes me how fast time slips away. I am back home writing this final blog post where I initially wrote my first one–a full circle. With these months spent away, discovering Rome’s sites and hidden secrets, I wonder what has changed and what I know now. I could tell you how many different countries I have been to or how much pasta and wine I consumed. But these types of numbers don’t matter, because you can’t count the experiences to line up in an algorithm. The feelings I encountered abroad were different from home because of being in a new element and a stronger sense of independence. I look back and smile at the small triumphs that felt so big months prior. Being able to communicate to someone who only speaks Italian with hand gestures or taking new side streets and getting lost, only to be found, was exciting to me.
I would never have had these new feelings of independence if I were in my same routine in Philadelphia. Where everyone speaks the same language, I always know where I am going and the exploration is lacking. I know now that if you think you have seen it all, travel somewhere else and come back with a new perspective. Find new places or new eyes to see differently than before.
Some of the best advice I received pertained to the idea of our own perspective. When traveling to new places, many of us ask others what they thought. The reasoning being they have been there, done that, so they know. Although it’s fine to ask for their opinion on an area, don’t let that influence your own perspective. Go places that initially interest you, form your own ideas and let your experience be unique to you.
I wanted to write this blog for several reasons. I hoped to be able to look back at these posts and remember what it was like to live in Rome and be in that moment. Now that everything feels like a memory, I can read this with an evolving perspective. I also wanted to share my experiences with my family and friends, to let them know what I am up to in Europe. Most of them have not lived outside the country like I have, so now they may have a better understanding of what it was like.
The most important reason I wanted to contribute to this blog was for students considering studying abroad. I hope that those interested in participating in Rome or any of the Temple study abroad options would have a better idea of what to expect from the program or that adapting to a foreign area is not as challenging as perceived. I hope my writings have encouraged or inspired students to try something new, explore and look for more opportunities to better their personal understanding of the world. Don’t live vicariously through my words; get out there and make your own memorable experience!
As for being back in the States, I feel far more Italian than when I left. Now I prefer espresso, late dinners, taking my time and walking through traffic (need to stop that). I may talk with my hands more and say Italian expressions that won’t make sense to others. These feel like little ways I can relive my favorite semester, reminisce on my new friendships and remember what the Eternal City taught me. Being home is nice, but I’d rather be in Italy. I am thankful for my new understanding of living abroad; I know it is something I can do in the future. As for now, I have a new perspective of the world through my experiences that I can apply in everyday life.
Thank you to Temple Rome and the Education Abroad Office, thank you everyone who has crossed my path on this journey and thank you to all who read along. Arrivederci!