Park of Monsters
Going abroad is all about new people, places, and experiences. Traveling overseas is a lifelong dream that only few ever get to experience. Everything has a high and a low, the bright side and the dark; but you know what, it’s all an experience. Traveling to Rome for the semester was absolutely a dream; ever since I was a sophomore in high school I knew I wanted to study abroad, I didn’t care where, as long as I went.
But being over here is both a dream and a nightmare. Don’t let that scare you. I promise it’s a good thing, let me explain why. I’ve always had the sanctity of home, no matter where I went, home was right there. Even when I was at school, a mere six hours away, I knew that I’d have home. I could drive home without having to plan it, to get home cooked meals and just sit there in the comfort of what I knew, where I had grown up. Being over here in Italy, I don’t exactly have the option to drive home for the weekend, and unless my family is hoarding a private jet I don’t know about, I can’t fly home either. The six hour time difference is extremely hard too. Calling my mom isn’t the easiest thing to do, she works her nine to six job while I’m in school from nine to five, depending on the day. Communication is especially difficult because she is constantly in meetings and tending to important documents. And some days you just really need that slice of home, to know that your family is still there for you, just to hear their voices. Back at school I could easily call her throughout the day as I needed, but here not so much. I sometimes catch her on her morning commute to work, only a twenty minute call. Or maybe between meetings and busy times, sometimes I get lucky with ten. I see my sister getting to do fun things with my mom that I miss, movies, dinner, just sitting at home and simply enjoying each other’s company. It’s the little things like this I miss.
The thing is, everyone expects you to have the time of your life. Most days everything is absolutely amazing, fun, wonderful, spectacular, however you want to see it. You basically living in an open air museum somewhere people only dream about. But some days, it’s nice to just slow down, to catch up on the action, and watch football, the American kind. It’s hard to live up to expectations, to have people living vicariously through you; I feel that pressure.
But I’m learning to do this for myself, to do things my way, which leads me to why this is also a dream, and some quick advice. I’m living in the eternal city, with all of Europe at my fingertips. It is a once in a lifetime chance. My program organizes the coolest trips and my classmates are becoming my family. We’ve gone to Capri and swam in the crystal clear blue water, and bathed in a hot spring where Popes once went to relax. I’ve gotten to travel to Oktoberfest, the best weekend of my life, and I’ve seen a big wig soccer team play in real life. (Almost) every day is something new, but some days I just lay on my couch and watch Netflix, boring right?
But here is what I’d like to say about it all: do everything at your pace, don’t be pressured into doing something just because other people are saying “oh you have to do this.” No, that’s not how it works, I know, I’ve tried. I’m one who likes to do things on my own, to experience life at my own pace. There are some days at the beginning that I regret because I never got to be me; I was being an imposter. Now, I’ve figured out that you have to just be yourself. If you are into photography, go explore, there is something beautiful around every corner. If you are into sitting at home and drinking a coffee on a cold night, that’s fine too. Go find a nice patio restaurant and sit there and observe what is going on, with coffee in hand of course. Life will continue no matter what you do, you just have to take it by the horns.
All in all, yes you will get homesick, but find something that makes you feel at home. I’ve got this lovely restaurant a few minutes away and I’ve found that that is home, especially when I got with my friends. What I’m saying is that you are here in a wonderful new place, full of potential and magic, take hold of it. Shape it to fit you. You’ll see that it can be everything you’ve ever dreamed of, everything you could imagine. Be you, and don’t lose sight of who you are, and I promise once you open up to the possibility of what this magic holds, it will be beautiful. Don’t be afraid.