Well, it has officially ended. Or has it? My Italian teacher in Rome assured my class that going back home is not the end, but a new beginning. And I have to agree with that. Instead of crying over leaving the beautiful city I was blessed to live in for three and a half months, I’m smiling at all the things I did that I never thought I would do, like explore France, Austria, and much of Italy! Meeting Italians and speaking with them in their language was also a dream come true. And taking religion, Italian, Roman history, and Latin classes in Rome was an experience like no other. I will never find people more appreciative of my name than the Italians themselves who reminded me countless times of its origin. Memories are never lost, and experiences stay with us our whole lives. My experiences cannot stay left in the past because they live with me every day in the person they have transformed me into.
Returning back home to Pittsburgh did not feel like an ending. Even though I was returning back to my home, my new perspective allowed me to see things in a whole new light. Now things that I overlooked have become more important in my daily life like cooking, spending quality time with family, and making sure I give myself time to relax and just take a deep breath. My awareness of my own culture has grown, and my eagerness to become better at Italian has taken a hold of me. I am very happy to share my stories and experiences with the many friends and family who have been asking me about my semester abroad.
Before Rome, I tried to avoid having a lot of expectations because I didn’t want to ruin the experience ahead of me by trying to predict something I never could. And I’m glad I did that, because my openness allowed me to find doors I never knew existed from volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity to befriending a community of Italians to visiting the villa of an ancient Roman emperor. Not only did I grow personally, but I also gained skills that I can bring into the professional workplace. Having international experience and familiarity with a foreign culture definitely will bring a new perspective into the workplace. Communicating in a foreign environment in a foreign language also helped me learn how to adapt quickly. Whatever my future job brings me, I am sure that I can utilize some skills I gained from my experience in Italy to help asses the situation and problem solve.
When I signed up for Rome, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I have seen some of how this experience has changed me, but I haven’t seen all the ways it has changed me because that is a lifelong experience. Until next time, arrivederci!