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Six hundred last words on Italy

August 4, 2012

The Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo.

The plane took off, and I looked toward the ground. Below, and getting farther away by the second, the Duomo stood. All the buildings I saw from the top of the Duomo the day before, all the streets I walked on every day for a month, all the museums I researched, all the history I touched, all of it grew smaller as the plane and I left it behind. A few tears made their way to the front of my eyes as I lost sight of the Duomo. Then, I faced forward in my seat and looked on toward the next step in my journey and in my life.

As Regis Philbin wrote in his latest book, How I Got This Way, “Every move you make sets you in a certain direction, and you never know where it will lead until you get there.” For the rest of my life, I can look back on my month in Italy with a sense of pride, happiness, and accomplishment.

Now that I’ve been home for a week, I want to write one final reflection on my month in Italy. For my last blog post about Italy, I want to tell four stories (including my opening), one for every place I went, to symbolize the value of the experience.

In Rome, I sat on the metro for a few stops. The train screeched to a halt at the Colosseum metro stop, and dozens of tourists shuffled toward the door, myself included. I walked up the stairs, strolled by the food shops and ticket machines, and stepped out the door, looking down at my map in the process to begin to figure out where to go to find the 2,000 year-old monument. Not necessary. I looked up, and there it was: the Colosseum. In Italy, I saw greatness.

In Cinque Terre, visitors can choose to walk between the towns. The walkway between the first (Riomaggiore) and the second (Manarola) town includes a wall that visitors write their names on to tell everyone they were there (legal or not, I’m not so sure). Anyway, my friends and I signed the wall, leaving our mark on Cinque Terre forever (or at least until the wall is repainted). In Italy, I left my mark, just as Italy left its mark on me.

In Venice, after hours of walking around, we decided to sit on some steps near the water for a bit. I sat on these old, algae-covered, eroded steps overlooking the canal that gives Venice its uniqueness. Gondolas moved with the waves. Tourists shuffled through the shops behind us. What can be called Venice’s skyline shimmered in the distance. I sat there on those steps that have been there for hundreds of years and smelled the watery air. In Italy, I took time to take it all in.

Deciding to study abroad is one of the best decisions I have ever made; everything about it made an extraordinary impact on me. I may not know where it will lead me just yet, but I do know I am a better person because of it. And as Regis Philbin wrote in his latest book, “Fate will somehow throw certain (possibly unlikely) characters into your life — but usually for reasons much larger than you will know at the time. Be open to their influence.” That wraps up my thoughts about my study abroad. I appreciate everyone who followed my journey and everyone who helped make it an experience I will always remember. And I know some day, I will see that Duomo in person again.

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From → Italia

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