I Paid for a Program and Got Change Back
For my study abroad program, we were required to keep a thesis journal. This journal included a multitude of things including recipes, reflections, responses and impressions, facts, pictures, schedules, and MUCH more. Even though it was a required assignment, I began to appreciate how it let me document every aspect of my program. Following is the journal reflection I wrote after week 4—a 3rd of the way through my program:
“This is the week where I realized I first started forgetting I was in a foreign country. After going to Orvieto and Umbria for our first required overnight trip, getting back to the palace in Ariccia was joyous! We would catch ourselves saying, ‘I can’t wait to get home.’ Not that we didn’t enjoy ourselves but once it was over and we were on the bus riding back, our beds in the palace seemed like what we would call home. When I’m within the confines of the palace doing work, going to class, eating, sleeping, etc., I don’t think about where this place is located that I’m living in. It’s only when I go out to eat at a nice restaurant or go to the supermarket and have to think about what I’m going to say or what they will say to me do I realize I’m not in America. As things become more ordinary, I feel at home even if I do have to speak Italian. For example, ordering a cappuccino, going to get a porchetta sandwich, and riding the train are three things that seem normal to me now. I don’t have to think hard about the words that will be exchanged. Italian isn’t as strange to hear in my ears either. Of course most of the language is still foreign to me, but it is not unusual to hear things without understanding them. I’ve also realized this week that time here is flying! Before I started this week I remembered thinking, ‘We’re ¼ of the way through this program.’ Literally a few days later since we only have 4-day weeks and we were on a trip for half of those days, we’re done with the week. Then spring break is in only 2 weeks! It honestly seems like there are fewer hours in the day in Italy. I don’t know how I’ve been here for almost a month already.
This week has brought about so many realizations and reflections for me and it is not even the halfway point in the semester yet. I can feel changes in myself and in my reactions/responses to things. Being on this trip is a great eye opener. It’s not because it is a study abroad trip or that it is in Italy, but everything else that is required to make it through the semester. I’ve learned to live with many people, give more than I take, contribute and cooperate, think before speaking or acting, soak up my surroundings, appreciate my own culture and another, and put myself in others’ shoes. Having to be more independent, having to jump out of my comfort zone, having to adapt to what’s acceptable in someone else’s culture, having to help others along, and having a new perspective on the quality and things of life are all things I’ve learned. I feel like a child in the aspect that they are generally more caring to the people around them and are reluctant to make enemies. Children: before they grow up enough to have so much of an opinion that it cannot be changed and don’t care what other people think and whether or not it agrees with their views or not. If adapting does not make me a more well-rounded person by the time I leave, the food sure will. I don’t ever want to take for granted that I was able to have this opportunity, but it feels nice to settle into things and feel comfortable.”