To be a Kid Again

Touching down at the Fiumicino airport two weeks ago was my first time outside of the United States. The trans-Atlantic flight was like a baptism. I got on the plane with anxiety and a little fear but landed with giddy anticipation. I embarked on the 20-minute taxi ride to Ariccia awestruck, experiencing everything for the first time and taking in everything I could.

The best comparison I can make to my experience over the past couple of weeks is that it is like being a child. The pure newness of everything from the history to the landscape to the culture put me in a state of perpetual wonder and at times disbelief. I have tried to prolong and preserve that feeling, but like how a child cannot stay small forever, I have found myself adjusting and acclimating to my life here as time goes on. 

This ongoing process of maturing, however, is proving to be even more transformative than that first wave of the initial shock. Settling into a routine, forming strong relationships, and being able to call a place home are things that only come with time and experience; and are the things I truly value. It’s only been two weeks since I arrived in Italy and I feel like I have seen and learned enough to last me a lifetime. In such a short time, I have made beautiful memories and what I know will be long-term friendships.

The intense anxiety I once felt about traveling overseas and living with 9 other people seems like a distant memory, and my current reality is filled with more amazement and gratitude than I could have imagined possible. I still feel like a kid here in many ways, but I find myself growing and learning every day, maturing and coming of age with each new experience.

With my whole heart,

Sarah Willis

My first sunset in Ariccia and one of the most surreal moments of my life.