As I sit here in my little nook I created in our upstairs loft, I look out the window and see the very thing that caught my eye when I first arrived. But now, the breeze I feel is much cooler and the trees more sparse. Somehow though I am still struck with great amazement at the view of the Ariccia bridge and its beautiful skyline. Almost two months ago, I sat in this very spot for the first time and saw this humbling sight. This view from my room has brought so much perspective and peace during my journey here in Italy. I am constantly reminded of how truly incredible this experience is and the wonderful things I get to see.
One of my favorite things to do is sit outside in the piazza in the morning, have a cappuccino, and watch the people around me. This time is so unique and special to me, because it is so peaceful and still. It gives me the opportunity to watch people interact without any distractions. Unlike in America, I am not on my phone or reading a book or conversing, I am still and my world is silent. I get to observe real life, relationships, mannerisms, love, friendships, and people of all ages play out in front of me like I am in a quiet theater, watching a movie. It is so neat to be able to observe people from a different culture in such a beautiful setting. Sometimes you learn more about a person or group of people by what they do, not say. We are too focused on the words and the perceptions given and received. We do not always take the time to listen and observe all means of communication and interaction around us. This realization not only feeds my personal growth, but it is extremely beneficial for strengthening my skills in order to fulfill my professional goals of becoming a counselor. This was just one of the many realizations that has made this experience so incredible and so beneficial.
As we drove through Rome on our way to the opera last night, I felt a surprise sense of pride and confidence, as I experienced another realization. I knew exactly where we were and I was able to identify famous landmarks and where they were in proximity to our location. I can spend days or even years in a city and not feel as confident about getting around as I do when I am in Rome. I think one of the best learning experiences, not only about Italy and traveling, but about myself, was one of the first things we did: the Rome Scavenger Hunt. We were about a week and a half into this experience, knowing absolutely no Italian, and really not knowing each other, yet somehow we managed to navigate Rome in its entirety and find famous historical landmarks all in about four and a half hours. Every frustration, disagreement, confusion, failed attempt in reading a map, lack of GPS, and wrong direction lead to such a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and confidence. This activity not only provided us with the tools to navigate Rome, it gave us the ability to adapt to situations, try new things, trust in others, build bonds, take charge, take risks, and navigate this whole journey. It was a humbling experience to say the least, but one of the best things we could have done.
As our time begins to wind down, I find myself reflecting on my experience here and how it has shaped me as a person. There are so many things that have contributed and will continue to contribute to my success in finding myself and fulfilling my dreams and aspirations. Almost every aspect of this journey has molded me in some fashion. I learn about others and myself every day in my interactions with my peers, teachers, and those I come in contact with here in Italy. From scavenger hunts to practicums and high school visits to living and traveling with nineteen other girls, this whirlwind has taught me more about myself and opened my eyes to a culture I could never have imagined. I still have so many amazing sights to see and people to meet. However, it’s nice to slow down, look out my window, and reflect on everything I’ve encountered since that first day, because it is truly an experience of a lifetime.