And Just Like That, It’s Over

Now that I have been home for a few weeks, I can fully understand all my emotions related to leaving Italy and returning to America. After 4 months in the beautiful city, I was feeling quite at home.  I simply did not want to leave. I was having too much fun exploring and learning different things every day. I had just gotten a full dose of friends and family from thanksgiving break, and I truly felt like I could have stayed in Rome for another 4 months. Although there were things I missed about America, like hanging out with my friends, family, my dog, going to Chipotle and Target, I learned to live without them.

I know not all people who study abroad feel this way at the end of their trip. Most of my friends were ready to go home and see their family and return to the comfort of being in a familiar place. But I felt familiar right there in the center of Rome. I loved the life I was living in Rome, I made that my new home.

Tori and me on a walk to class

The night before we moved out completely, my roommates and I decided to take one last trip to the Trevi Fountain. We grabbed some champagne and wine for our last night in Rome. All eight of us sat in front of the Trevi with tears in our eyes. None of us were truly ready to leave. Each one of us discovered new things about the world and ourselves while living in Rome. We hugged, cried, sang “This is What Dreams Are Made Of”, cried some more, and made our final wishes into the Trevi.

My friends and I enjoying a night in Trastevere

The next morning Tori and I lugged our way overweight suitcases out of our beautiful apartment and down the sidewalk. Heading to the airport felt like something I was doing against my will. I wasn’t ready to come home. The first few days back in America were exciting because I got to see my friends, family, dog, and I got to eat Chipotle for the first time in 4 months!  But once I did all the things that I was missing when I was in Rome, I started to feel a weight take over me. I felt like I was missing something. At first I didn’t realize what it was, but it is so obvious now. I was missing the fast passed lifestyle of living in Rome. I missed being surrounded by the beautiful culture. I felt as if I had been thrown back into reality. Of course, it is amazing being home and being surrounded by friends and family, but it felt so normal and unexciting.

Adventures in Cinque Terre

The second day back in America I went to the grocery store with my mom. As soon as I walked in, everything felt so weird. I could read everything, I could understand what people were saying. You are probably thinking “well duh! You are in America” but for some reason it felt so overwhelming.

When I went to Italy I was expecting to feel culture shock, but I wasn’t expecting to feel it when I came back home. Within a few days of being home, I realized I was having a very hard time adjusting.

It took me awhile to fully adjust. I spend my time focusing on future trips to Italy and Europe in general. I am also looking into exciting things to do in America. There is still so much to see in my own backyard that I never even thought about. I am saving my money once again to make traveling possible. Instead of being sad that I am not in Italy, I smile at the fact that I am blessed enough to have experienced it. I make it a point to practice my Italian daily, and push my mom to only speak to me in Italian. I keep in contact with Italian friends and family members as well. All of this helped me adjust to being back in America. It helped me from feeling as though Italy was out of my life.

My roommates and me in Milan

Although I am not in Italy right now, a part of my heart will always be there. When I close my eyes, I can see the beautiful monuments and cobblestone streets all around me. Before I fall asleep at night I wander the backroads of Rome again and again. I know I will be back in the eternal city sooner than later. You do not fall in love with a place like that and not plan to go back. So, for now, it is ciao to Rome, but soon I will be saying ciao again.

~Julianna Carfaro

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