Looking Back

The past few days have been surreal. It cannot be so that my program is already at its end. The bittersweet ending, that is really just bitter at this point, was very anticlimactic. We presented our final papers to a crowd of new and old faces. We gathered for a last group dinner. We sang our praises of the program, hugged, and packed. But can this really be it? These past ten weeks have changed my life. Inexplicably, I am a new person. I still have all of my physical similarities, but emotionally and perspectively I am not who I was. This quarter has taught me so much not about the world and a new culture (that I love), but about myself. Being removed from my life in Seattle has opened up my eyes to new angles and new considerations. I have seen that things are not always as I have considered them. I have been confronted with things that make me genuinely uncomfortable. I have been pushed and encouraged to cross the line, again and again. I have volunteered in a classroom filled with kids who do not speak my language. I have opened my mind and then my heart to change. I have had an impact beyond what I could have imagined or asked for. I have discovered what it is I truly have a passion for. I know now the life I want. Studying abroad has shown me what I want to get out of my life. Having to adapt to a new culture and a new way of life, has forced me to think critically about myself. It has forced me to see things in a new light. Ten weeks later, and I am getting a little nervous to return to Seattle. I feel as though I have just acquired my sea legs here. I am not sure I still have mine from Seattle. Have they been transformed too much? How much time is it going to take before they come back? I feel as though I have found a place that not only do I fit, but fits me. It can’t already be over right? I thought that at the end of the program, I would have this big ‘a-ha’ moment. That there would be this pinnacle of self discovery. But then again, as looking back, I think I had a critical moment everyday. Multiple times a day. In which I learned and adapted and changed. I cannot say that I am excited to go back to Seattle. I love Rome. I wish I could stay. I will soak up every last millisecond I have in this ancient and modern city.  I am excited to see where life takes me. And I know at one point, I will be back here, sitting in a cafe, enjoying a well crafted cappuccino.