Italian Adventures: Homeward Reflections

31 Jul

I’m coming home today. I’m all packed and have a few minutes to spare before my taxi comes to take me to the airport.

In a way, I’m going to miss this apartment. Yes, it’s constantly dirty. Yes, there are 7 other girls here. No, they never sleep during normal hours. But it has been my home for the past month. I have been happy to come home to it after long weekends in Rome and the Amalfi Coast. But I am looking forward to coming home to MY bed and MY room and all of MY familiar things. I’m looking forward to coming back to my life.

I’ve learned a lot on this trip. First and foremost, I’m braver than I thought. I mean, I signed up all alone. I knew no one when I got on that plane 30 days ago. Now, I have about 30 new acquaintances and a few new friends that I’ll keep in touch with when I get back home. I’m still learning/grappling with the fact that I’m reserved. Something about my innate aura sends a message to people that I’m not…something. Fun? Approachable? I don’t know what exactly. But it’s the reason I’ve always had a hard time meeting people and making new friends. In a way, it’s good. Because only the people who take the time to actually talk to me and get to know me become my friends. The rest are too fickle and superficial, and I don’t want or need them around anyway. However, I’m still deciding if I really want to be able to turn my reserved-ness off easier/faster or if I want to embrace it whole-heartedly.

Also as far as bravery is concerned, I’ve navigated the streets of Florence to the point where I can go anywhere here by myself and be completely comfortable. I’ve learned bits of Italian and can ask for certain things in Italian. I know that traveling to other countries is very manageable now. I’ve also done all of this without a cellphone or phone number of any kind. Imagine how much easier it would be with modern technology! I’m not afraid of leaving my comfortable home and in fact, I’m eager to keep venturing out and discovering new places.

But at the same time, I’ve learned how truly fortunate I am to live where I do. I love California. It’s amazing how many people honestly dream of coming to California and I was born and raised there. I’m also very lucky to live in the States. We Americans are really spoiled. Things we take for granted are sorely missed abroad. Like free water at restaurants. Ice in your beverage. Option, options and more options! You can’t go to a restaurant in Italy and order a salad with no this, extra that, and dressing on the side. In fact, if you ask to many questions, the waiter walks away. There’s no Netflix or Hulu or Pandora or local broadcasting channels that stream shows online in Italy. There is no Target or WalMart. There is no one-stop shopping. There is very little – if any – diversity in food options. Aside from tourists, there’s very little diversity period. And everything is expensive. I would never want to live permanently anywhere else.

I’m grateful for this experience. I’m proud to be able to say I lived in another country for a month when I was in my 20s. I’m also excited to be a more interesting person now that I can say I’ve traveled – I have so much more to offer in certain conversations! I’m thrilled with the excitement for life this trip has given me. I want to see and do everything, and have every intention of tackling as much of it as possible.

I’m also grateful for the people who have very much influenced me for the better during this trip. Sarah is incredibly independent, confident and strong. She’s traveled to plenty of places and has the same outlook as I do on many things. Becky is outgoing and fun and entertaining and super talented – she’s the personality that I have with my closest friends and family, and that I wish I could have with everyone, but she’s that way all the time. Both of these girls make me want to be better in different ways and that’s great!

I think most importantly though, I’ve learned that change is good. Change is growth. And that being open to change or not having a plan – if just for the day or your whole life – is good.

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