One of the least popular things you can say, as a college student in May, is “I’m done!”
I apologize in advance. With some finals scattered through the end of April, presentations instead of exams and a movie viewing, you could say this was one of my more enjoyable exam seasons.
Instead, I tested my emotional stability as I had many “lasts” with my wonderful abroad group of friends and prepared to say goodbye to my favorite city. I brainstormed which stories I’ll tell first, and recalled historical facts while showing my family the city. Exams are meant to see what you’ve learned throughout the semester; since Italy skipped most of those, here’s what I’m walking away with-
1. There’s always more to see: In my neighborhood, in Rome, in Italy, in Europe, in the world, this rings true. You won’t ever be able to visit or do all of it, but what would be the appeal if you could? Traveling should be a life long hobby and value, not something you do for one semester in college. There’s always something to go back for, and wherever you are, there’s always something to be discovered.
2. “Bar” refers to coffee: Classic mixup. However, my discovered love for cappuccinos made the abundance of “bars” exciting in it’s own way.
3. I’m no stranger to being wrong: I originally thought I shouldn’t go to Rome since I had been there (for two days). That was funny. I couldn’t be more pleased with my last minute decision to study abroad, or coming back to Italy. Although it wasn’t the first time I threw a coin in the Trevi, walked through the colosseum, or tasted gelato; I’m no longer the soon to be senior in high school who did all those things. I’ve retained more knowledge, appreciated more beauty and laughed with purer happiness than I could have ever imagined, especially in two days.
4. Or to being right: Noticing that I can correctly remember directions, silently say the correct answer or accurately predict friendship potential; I found how to trust my instincts and myself. Welcoming independence and confidence, this semester has continued the process of coming into my own, one I had forgot should always be in progress. Experiences like being the most trusted translator at my internship, learning the Italian language, and showing my family around this wonderful city have only magnified this.
5. Blame it on the a-a-a-alcohol: Even giving up sweets for lent can’t save you from the calories of red wine. Who knew? But at 3 euro a bottle, I don’t think anyone is surprised.
6. How to dive deep: Whether it’s taking the time to learn about what I am seeing rather than just snapping a picture, or taking the time to correct first impressions, this semester taught me to look beneath the surface. This applies to people as well, as many of my favorite memories took place with my roommates, that started as strangers and became family.
7. I’m such a mom: That wasn’t just a cliche comparison, our apartment’s family dynamics consisted of a grandma, aunt,
mom (yours truly), angsty teen and baby. From approving outfits as we left for class to internship searching for everyone, my mother goose nickname surfaced once again. Although it’s not surprising, this strong characteristic allowed me to see that regardless of the city I’m in, the friends I make or the routines I fall into, my personality will always be distinctly me.
8. Ti amo, Roma: More than anything, all of these things have made me realize that Rome will always be home. This city went from being the short term back drop of my first trip to Europe as a 17 year old to the city that celebrated my 21st birthday with me, showed me the value of history, and gave me a greater appreciation for perspectives different than my own. Although I could skip minor details like political corruption and a lack of feminism, I will always adore Rome and Italy as a whole.
Although my time is nearing an undeniable end, my experiences, appreciation for cultures and languages, along with my adoration for traveling, have made Rome a part of who I am. This semester has taught me more than any stack of notecards, bubble sheet or strict professor ever could. For this reason, I am unable to be a college student boasting that “I’m done!” because this semester, this growth, will always be with me.