I can recall the orientation in the Red Gym in Madison so clearly. I took a seat in the back row. A few other students were seated at six different long wooden tables. A group of girls were chatting on the right side of the room. The man from CET was setting up the powerpoint he would later present. A professor (Laurie Beth) came over to ask my name and introduced herself saying she’s excited for the semester together. She then turned to introduce me to my tablemate, Catie, an art student. I knew I would get to know everyone in this small group of 11, but I didn’t expect to have such a diverse group that is cohesive at the same time. We then were told to write down two goals for the semester. Quickly, I scribbled, “I hope to feel like I actually live in Italy and to make friends with people I probably would have never met in Madison.” Let’s just say I underestimated the study abroad experience I would have. Not only did I effortlessly accomplish these goals, I gained so much more.
After listening to Reflections, one line caught my attention. “Our bodies undressed the layers of shy, revealing the truth that was buried inside.” I think this is a perfectly poetic way to state how everyone came to know each other this semester. As with all new interactions, people tend to hide certain things about themselves and don’t reveal their “real” selves right off the bat. But then time passes and you find yourself showing everyone what a flutterkick is and making pacts to tell each other when someone has food in their teeth or some cheese on their chin. I even sealed the deal by wearing my glasses in public which you all should know officially marks all of us as friends.
Then there’s the statement,“I hope to feel like I live in Italy.” This goal was obtained even before the Home post.
But then there’s the “so much more” that I gained. It’s ironically related to what we were asked to do for this week’s blog, reflect. In my Cross Cultural Psychology, Tourism Studies, and even Italian class I was asked to reflect on my time in Italy on a daily basis. This is a no new concept for me. In most classes you relate what you learn to your personal experiences, but I have never consciously reflected as deeply and as frequently as I have here. I believe this skill and new way to approaching each day has helped me avoid my quarter life I’m due for. I’m at the point in my life where most of the decisions I make could have huge impacts on where I end up life. It sort of reminds me of the books all my friends loved in middle school, where halfway through the book you are told to pick a number and it will lead you to one of the five alternate endings. However, with all this reflection I’ve done this semester, I have a firm grip on my identity and have solidified that I am going in a direction I think best suits me. I think this semester has allowed me to slow down. These blogs have probably been the most helpful by making me sit down and truly ask myself who I am and what I really think.
Thanks for reading my little pieces from this big world.
S/O to everyone for some of the most fun-filled days I’ve had yet.
And here’s my breakup song to Florence.