My first day of college was, by all means, a complete disaster.
I was miserable being away from home. Every few hours I would lock myself in a stall in the communal bathroom of my freshman dorm to cry and play Candy Crush on my phone. I missed New York, I missed my family. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or get to know my new surroundings, I wanted to go home. When I wasn’t crying, I was trying to figure out the soonest I could get there.
Turns out, I needn’t have worried. I quickly adapted to life in Philadelphia. I learned where to get food, how to use the subway, and even how to successfully order a cheesesteak without completely giving myself away as an out-of-towner. I began to like the city I once hated, and I stopped feeling like a stranger there. I am by no means like a local, but for most of the year, Philadelphia has become my home.
And so with my confidence boosted by my ability to learn Philly in two short years, I decided to go even further- to Rome.
I was not ready.
Having forgotten my initial reaction to Philadelphia, the instant homesickness was a surprise. The shock from that was probably worse than my culture shock. What am I doing missing home? I’m in Italy! There’s no time for homesickness when there’s museums to visit, ruins to see, and gelato to eat!
I felt incredibly out of place, and I didn’t know what I was doing here. Why had I bothered to come, if I was just going to wish for home?
I haven’t quite figured that part out yet. On some level, I know that I’m here to go to school. I am here to learn, to practice my Italian, and to fulfill a decade-long dream of coming to Rome. For right now, I just don’t know my place here. But I have time.
I can feel myself making progress, though. I’ve figured out the subway (or metro, as it’s called here), and two (of many) bus lines. I can make my way around the areas by school and the residence, I’m learning where to go to eat, and I’m seeing the sights. The nerves that would make a trip around the block feel like a marathon are lessening, and I’m beginning to feel comfortable. I can’t wait until I feel as at home on the streets of Rome as I do in Philadelphia or New York.
For now, though, I’m just taking each day as it comes. I’m appreciating every day that the trip to school gets easier, or every time I don’t need to check my map to find a place for dinner. I’m excited to see what this semester brings me, but I know there’s no rushing it. (According to most people, it will go fast enough as it is). And maybe by next week’s post, I’ll have made more progress in integrating into Roman life! Until then, ciao amici!