Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mi manca l'Italia!

Topic: What do you miss? (a person, place, thing, a time in your life)

When I was studying at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA I was standing by an elevator after class staring at the plethora of flyers of announcements, campus clubs and upcoming events thumbtacked and stapled to bulletin boards, encouraging you to join. One flyer stood out with the title "Study Aboard". There were multiple foreign cities as options, but only one drew me in...Rome, Italy. I didn't have many friends at Duquesne so I thought this was a great opportunity to explore one of the most romantic countries on Earth, get to know myself better and integrate myself into a beautiful culture. Nervous yet eager, I found myself at an open house with my mom in tow. I discovered I could study abroad in Roma, Italia for the same price of studying in Pittsburgh. Doesn't take a college degree to tell you what the right answer is! 

In February 2001, with a non-refundable deposit, an MCI calling card, 12 credits and textbooks in tow, I was off to Italy for an opportunity of a lifetime. I have numerous memories and experiences that I could bore you with, but these are the ones I miss most...

My "dorm room" was one of two down on the ground level. My roommate and I got along great. The best part about my room was the view from the wooden Italian shutters and the water pressure in my shower. Overlooking the Italian landscape towards Ostia Antica, I could hop out my window and walk three feet to our one-room classroom; built that year for the students. I can still smell the freshly built schoolhouse. The chalkboard came on wheels. My Italian teacher was a beauty. My Arts History teacher commuted from the Vatican. Classes were held Monday-Thursday. Most Thursday nights were spent rushing to the train station to catch the overnight train to a country of our choice, usually one of six on our pre-paid Euro-rail pass. Thursday night in Italy, Friday morning in Switzerland.

We had organized class trips to multiple cities, including Assisi, Venice and Florence, complete with Italian meals at local restaurants. My mom and sister visited me for spring break and we took a mini-cruise to some of the Greek Isles and Kusadasi, Turkey. I did a roundoff back handspring in Piazza Novona for a free beer. One day I spent eight hours walking aimlessly through the Roman Forum reading a guide book from front to back, talking with tourists about the history of the ruins we were admiring. That was a magical day, something I cherish as one of my best days in Rome. I miss that.

Still to this day I become nostalgic by my Italian experiences. The rising sun and dewy mornings remind me of waking up in Italy. The smell of my body spray reminds me of a sweet scent I used on a daily basis. I fell in love with tomatoes and red wine throughout my life in Italy. I kissed an Italian. I spoke the language of love and spoke it well (for a time). I miss that.

I feel incredibly honored that I was able to study abroad, even make Dean's List, and have an experience only some young people dream about. I tell every high schooler or young college student, if within their means, to STUDY ABROAD! It will shape who you become. 

In the meantime, I continue to dream and consider my next visit to Italy, to relive my nostalgic moments and visit new landscapes. I'll continue to enjoy my scrapbook thick with photos. I've even thought of renting a villa for a year. Anyone care to join?! Where would I go? Does it matter? At least I'll visit the Italy I know, love and miss.

What do you miss? 

1 comment:

  1. My daughter Elissa did an AFS exchange year in Italy. You might talk her into a return trip! She did a bike trip there about six years ago (before marriage) with a cousin and loved returning.