The summer before I left for Rome I was excited, nervous and scared. I tried to prepare myself by buying everything I could possible need, researching the program and trying to learn some Italian. Then after a summer of counting down the days, the day had finally arrived that I was leaving. As I left my parents and went through security at the airport, all the nerves I had calmed over the summer had come back to me. Was I going to be able to handle a whole semester so far from home? Do I know enough Italian to get by? Who were my roommates going to be and would we get along? No matter what, everyone has these fears before they leave and there is no way to avoid them.
The first couple of days in Rome were a bit overwhelming – a lot of new information, a lot of new territory to learn and meeting a lot of new friends and faces. After about two weeks, once I made a couple trips to the grocery store, got the public transportation systems figured out, and was learning my way around Rome, I knew I would be fine here for the next four months. And I was. Still through the whole semester I was discovering new things and still making mistakes, but I was creating some of my best memories of my life during this time abroad. It was so exciting to be able to explore and travel every weekend around Rome, around Italy and all of Europe. I met some amazing people – Americans, Italians, and people from all over the world. I was able to learn, explore, and truly integrate myself into another culture.
Leaving was bittersweet. There were times throughout the semester where I had become a bit homesick and was missing my family. So I couldn’t wait to see them and share all my stories from the semester with them. But I could not imagine not coming back to my apartment and life in Rome. Once I got back home I was able to get back into my old ways no problem but I still miss Rome all the time because I truly had the time of my life during my semester abroad. That semester has definitely had a huge impact on my life.
When you get home, stay in touch with the friends you make abroad. I know my family and friends at home are sick of my Rome stories so it is always nice to plan a day to meet up with my new friends I made in Rome and reminisce. They are the only ones that will never get sick of hearing the same Rome stories over and over again. And trust me, you will want to tell these stories over and over again.