Hey there : )
So I wanted a little time to get home, soak it in, see what seemed important about the whole ~abroad~ experience once I’d had the opportunity to mull it over. That was four weeks ago, and I head back to my home campus a day from now, so pretty sure time’s up.
Summary’s impossible, of course, but big takeaways (or at least those coming to mind):
1) I can no longer not hear language as a construct. You always know that it’s just sounds with assigned meanings that people combine in various ways, but after 3.5 months in another country with a brand new language, you *know,* and there is no unknowing.
2) I still miss Florence/Italy incredibly, and even more now than when I first left, but I also have a new appreciation for my native area — I’ve just found it stunningly beautiful, every day. Increased love of everything everywhere = …idk, success?
3) The studio class has a very specific range of efficacy, but it rocks that range. I believe I have improved my drawing : )
4) For any ACM students: the handbook was quite prescient and remains a trustworthy source of information. Specifically when it warns of the the possibility of reverse culture shock, and of an inability to really communicate about the trip with friends and family. Neither was especially a *problem*, but they’re very real experiences.
5) The desire to emulate the cooking remains (somewhat sadly) overwhelming. I have attempted one Italian dinner, with middling success, and will have to adjust some recipes and resign myself to the fact that I will have to make my own bread. Aside from that…god almighty I just miss their tomatoes.
6) Relationships are…interesting when tested by a semester abroad. Of the ~30 of us, most came in with significant others, and for many the situation devolved very quickly into high drama that was by turns entertaining and honestly tragic. So, if you’re going to do this, be solid with your boyfriend/girlfriend, or accept the possibility that your budding romance may not survive the experience. (In my own case, it was in many ways horrible to only get the occasional skype date, because I’d get just enough time to feel all warm and fuzzy about seeing him and then the time difference would demand that one or both of us get going. At the same time, though, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ definitely applied, and ultimately we got through it and just managed to tack 3 freebie months on to our running total. So I’m certainly not saying it’s hopeless ; )
7) I’m going back to Italy and to Florence at some point. Have to. Will probably be years from now, and will probably require much scrimping and saving to make it happen, but I’m going back. And will hopefully be dragging some people along with me because it’s magical, dammit. (And yes, I know that I have explicitly stated before that you can’t go in expecting a constant land of enchantment, because you can’t, but that doesn’t mean it can’t sometimes just sneak up on you.)
Long story short: a rare opportunity no matter who you are, but an astounding, amazing, fill-in-the-adjective etc. one for those actually prepared for the realities of it. Not everyone took it seriously, and I’m sure that will still be the case for future classes, but even a month later I can still say without a doubt that it was an honor to be part of this.
And P.S. —
Still love you, Duomo. Don’t ever change <3