To all the Richmond staff:
Although this is a little late, I wanted to say thank you for everything.
I hoped to wait until I could write with a clear perspective, without being too emotionally entangled and missing Italy, but I realize that who I am will never be separated from my experience there. It isn’t just the small things I will miss, such as the food or speaking Italian. I invested a lot of my person into my study abroad experience, and as a result, it has changed the way I look at everything.
When I came home, at first, I painted a lot- the Amalfi Coast, the view from Castello di Verazzano. I thought looking through all my pictures and painting them would help me re-live my memories and keep remembering, but I think it prolonged my time in adjusting back to American life. I am currently working part-time, painting part-time, and will be attending graduate school next year. Many things keep reminding me of Italy. I have shared my experience with so many, and you all made my time there so worthwhile. I gained so much more than I expected, and I believe it taught me to see all the possibilities and opportunities we have in life.
There is a quote from Da Vinci that I wanted to understand when I went abroad:
“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
This quote really defined the direction of my life as I am an artist, but my education is in science.
To share with you the outward impact, here is what I noticed happen to me:
I am much more able to speak with strangers without a second thought, and I have a newfound courage.
I’ve finally traveled by myself within the United States (for my graduate school interviews) and even managed to rent a car. (The rules here are very strict – 26 is the age, but all I could think was, if I could do it in Italy, why not here? Thank you, Simona, for telling me to visit those car rental companies on those streets, when I almost gave up. Thanks to you, I was able to visit Maremma.
My conversation partner, Caterina and I, still talk over Facebook occasionally. I can’t begin to tell you how much Italy has changed me; I feel part-Italian.
Sorry this is so long, but I just wanted to share this and encourage you all. What you are doing is making a difference, and has utterly and completely changed my life. I am even looking to work abroad for a few years after graduate school. So, thank you all, you’ve forever made an impact in my life, and my experience wouldn’t have been that way if it wasn’t for your openness, willingness to help, and ability to encourage and instill a life-long learning mentality.