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Approaching the end

July 25, 2012

Initially, I expected to be writing this blog post from the airport in Rome on Saturday because I’ll have free time and because tomorrow, I have my final for my Italian classes here in Italy. But, turns out, I think I know culture pretty well after studying, and I’ll write a practice tema tonight. But for now, I want to pause and reflect on this month and what I have learned.

Before I left for Florence, I wrote a post about the “Lizzie McGuire Movie” and how I hoped to have eye-opening experiences, know what I want out of life and grasp a better understanding of the world. Now that the experience is coming to a close, I can honestly say I have gained perspective on all of those.

Studying abroad is an eye-opening experience in itself. I have spent a month surrounded by Italians in a historic and cultural city. I have traveled around the country, seen beautiful views, touched history, been in the presence of greatness, and checked items off my bucket list. I have stood where millions of others have stood and lived like another culture. Visiting a country is eye-opening; living in another country is life-changing.

I have a new comprehension of maintaining a good life. Studying abroad has taught me to chill out and enjoy the present. It taught me to cherish the time I have with people and take advantage of that time by digging into what makes them tick. It taught me that everything works out. It taught me that people lead different lifestyles, have different comforts, eat different foods, have different hobbies, etc., but similarities exist, and people are good.

I have learned so much about people on this journey, and that has reaffirmed my committment to journalism. As Kathie Lee (of the fourth hour of the “Today” show) likes to say, everybody has a story, and everyone should have a voice. I want to give them one, and I want to do good. Above all, I want to do good for this world that and these people who have given me so much. However, that being said, what I want most out of life is to be surrounded by good, caring family and friends. This experience would not have been what it is to me without those here with me who have made and shared memories with me and those at home who have been there with me in heart and mind. Nothing is more important than the people who are there for you every single day, and in Italy, I realized how much I value my family, my old friends and my new pals. Everyone you meet impacts your life, and people can teach you more about yourself than you would have learned otherwise. Here, people have taught me about dreams and heartbreak and struggles and goodness and life and grammar and conversation, and I know how cliché that is, but I will never forget them because of this.

In “What Dreams Are Made Of,” Lizzie McGuire sings, “I’ve got somewhere I belong. I’ve got somebody to love.” Before I left for Italy, I hoped to be able to apply those lyrics to myself after the experience. And without a doubt, now, I can. I have learned about myself in terms of realizing what is important to me and what is important for my future. I have learned about my strengths and weaknesses and that even though there are repercussions in the morning, nighttime deep chats are worth it. I have learned that I can be independent and smart and responsible in situations with which I have never before been challenged. I have learned that I am excited for the next adventure, whatever and wherever that may be.

What, have I learned, is super important to Italians? Olive oil. Italians put olive oil on basically anything! They slather it on to make the plate of food better. Sure, it improves the quality of the food, but it’s not absolutely necessary. It’s bonus goodness.

What, have I learned, is truly important in life? The people in it. Doing good. Appreciating the moment. And really living. Everything else is olive oil.

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From → Italia

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