Holidays away from home are always hard. My typical Easter in the States is full of church, family, Easter baskets, and classic American comfort food. Last weekend I celebrated Easter in a Croatian church with people that until 2 months ago were complete strangers and my Easter dinner was shrimp pasta. However, I still had the best weekend celebrating one of my favorite holidays with friends that have become like family in just 10 short weeks.
JSB gives the opportunity for personal travel on weekends, and since it was Easter, we had a 4-day weekend! If I had to pick a weekend of this semester where I learned the most important lesson, I would choose last weekend. There have been weekends where I have learned to navigate big cities, and weekends where I have learned about cultures completely foreign to me. However, 4 days in Croatia taught me a lesson I will never forget. It taught me that no matter where I am in the world I can choose to feel blessed or choose to be dwell on what I don’t have.
The weekend started off with gloomy skies and inconvenient rain. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. Several of the girls I was with were spending their first major holiday away from home, and we were stuck in a tiny Airbnb hiding from the rain. Then Sunday morning came and we decided to go to church at a small Croatian Baptist church. The service was so foreign to us and nothing like what we were used to experiencing at Easter Sunday church. It would have been easy to walk away discouraged. However, I walked away from the 2-hour service, amazed at the universality of the Gospel!
As our weekend continued, we started to find small signs that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. First, it was a beautiful hike that blew us away and unexpectedly led us to a majestic white cross. Then it was the most amazing sunset over the water. As we sat on the rocks amazed by the beautiful colors, it started to rain. It could have been a tragic end to the day, but instead we turned around and saw a perfect double rainbow! It was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen and the perfect symbol of our weekend. There is always a rainbow if you wait long enough and look hard enough.
This lesson I will take with me long after I leave Italy, but one that I think sums up this program perfectly. JSB has been one of the most impactful experiences of my life. I have learned so much and grown in a million different ways. However, it is not always the easiest. There have been many times when I have to take a step back and remind myself that while I may not have my favorite peanut butter and the WiFi may cut off my FaceTimes at the most inconvenient times, I get to live in Italy!
That right there is the biggest rainbow of them all. Just like how I will talk about the rainbow in Croatia for the rest of my life yet completely forget the rain, I will talk about everything amazing about JSB and completely forget the hard because it is so beyond worth it! I cannot believe it is almost time for me to go home!