I’ve known that the one year anniversary of the day I arrived in Rome was approaching, but waking up this morning knowing today was the day was mind-blowing. As I logged on facebook this morning (bad habit, facebooking first thing in the morning … oops) I saw a photo posted of a group of girls and I as we had just arrived at Rome Fiumicino airport. I struggle to grasp the fact that one event in my life can feel like just yesterday and at the same time feel like a lifetime ago. There’s really no way that I could ever put into words what my three months abroad meant to me, but after seeing “One Year Later” reflections from friends, and talking about it endlessly with others, I felt like it was an important thing to do.
I knew I would love living in Rome, but the city stole my heart. People have asked me what I loved most about Rome, and I can never really give a solid answer. How could I even start? There is something about the incredible feeling you get from being Rome, that I can only hope that all of my family, friends, and loved ones can one day experience for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, my sugar coated memories haven’t completely taken over, I know it’s by no means a perfect city. However, the not so great parts, gypsies accosting you with splatter pigs and various light up toys, stepping in puddles of human urine (I’m lookin’ at you Allie and Grace), and creepy men who seem to lurk everywhere waiting to shower you with some bizarre version of a “compliment,” are so completely overshadowed by the magic of the Eternal City that you can’t help but just laugh at them.
One of the most amazing things to come from my time abroad was the friendships I made. By some miracle the people who I was abroad with were 45 of the greatest people I’ve ever met. I never could have imagined the bond that would form between myself and the people on the program, but I am so incredibly thankful for it. About a month in, I remember thinking to myself, how is it possible that people I’ve know for so little time can feel like they’ve been in my life forever? There’s something so cool about the way being taken so far out of your element, away from your friends, family and normal way of life allows you to connect to people on a completely different level. I made some of the best friends of my life in Rome and even people who I weren’t quite as close to impacted me in ways that maybe they don’t even realize. The fact that one year later we still get together as a huge group for dinner parties, birthday parties, etc. makes me so happy and speaks to the friendships we made and the character of every one of them.
The positive impact that my experience had on my life can be measured in the personal changes I made over the three months that I was there. I gained so much independence, and left with the feeling that if I can navigate a foreign country for three months then I have no doubt that I can do anything. I didn’t just live abroad, I thrived abroad and I was the best version of myself while I was there. My confidence improved, as I discovered quickly living and travelling in abroad that even when obstacles arise, I have the ability to overcome them and learn from them. While I was in Rome, and when I think of Rome I am almost overwhelmed by how lucky I feel. The experience was such a blessing and I will be forever thankful for the fact I was able to live in Europe and visit places I had dreamed my whole life of going. In fact I STILL can’t believe I went to Paris. There’s not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of Rome, and I don’t know that there ever will be.
I could say this is my final entry, but it’s not. I am determined to live abroad again, or at the very least visit Rome again, and when I do expect blog entries! I’ll end this for now with some of the most commonly spoken words from our trip, Ciao for now.