Buongiorno da Roma!
After a day of getting up at 5 a.m. and going to bed at midnight, I've made my return to the Eternal City. Legend has it that if you throw one coin in the Fontana di Trevi, you're destined to return to Rome. Throw two, you'll find love. If you throw three, you're looking at marriage.
In 2014, a freshman in college, I threw one coin into the Trevi.
In 2016, a college senior, here I am.
In addition to the obvious changes of improved photo editing skills, hair snipped and dyed, and "eyebrows on fleek," (more like "eyebrows actually there"), a considerable amount of things have changed in my life since I first came to Rome. What better way to hit home the idea of self-discovery abroad than to take a moment to reflect on how my life and I have changed since my initial stay in this city?
I'm more mature.
As I'm sure you can imagine, I was very much the happy-go-lucky sunshiny college freshman. In fact, having been to Rome that year for academics, I was actually the baby of the friend group I made then. I was coddled by the old kids in the kindest and most endearing of ways. I very much went along with the group and "with the flow"--not to say I am a follower, as I do very much like my autonomy. But, at this age, I was much more hesitant to explore on my own in a foreign country where instead of knowing the language, I can weasel my way around it just enough to be okay. My primary goal was, and still is, safety.
Now, I'm the old lady of the group. I see myself well beyond the giddiness of freshman year and instead can focus myself on things like cultural enrichment while in Rome, or having the confidence to venture out on my own and not feel scared. I do my fair share of coddling when needed (as you can imagine on weekend nights), in addition to panicking less when something goes awry. I'll admit I'm not always the most patient person, but I am able to figure things out and freak out less while being out of my comfort zone (there it is!)
I have a better relationship with my parents.
I'm sure we all have our spats with parental figures. Around the time that I left for Italy in 2014, things weren't going too hot. This time around, I feel like my parents sent me off knowing that I am mature enough to be okay. In turn, I left know that I've got their trust. My parents mean the world to me, and I think that it's important to have a good relationship with them, especially abroad, so that they can be your backbone. You're going to feel homesick, or actually sick, or sad, or lonely sometimes. It's comforting to know that you can shoot them a message, call, or FaceTime them when you need advice or just want to say "hi." Sure, no parent-child relationship is perfect, but as my grandfather would say, it's a "work in progess!"
I am in a great relationship.
We've all heard that "falling in love with your best friend" is the best thing to do. I can whole-heartedly attest. I think that the maturity I have now, coupled with my better family interactions, makes for my best self joining with somebody else's. Having a partner who cares about everything from your latest test score to if you had lunch today--whether you're 5 or 5,000 miles away--is something to be cherished. You can always know that somebody out there looks out for your best interests; not because they're obligated to like your parents, but because they freely choose to out of love for you.
I know what I want to do with my life.
Three years ago, I had a completely different major and thought I wanted to be a language translator. Now, I write for Odyssey and found that I enjoy editorial. I learned about networking. I made connections. I (finally) got a LinkedIn account. As a senior, I am trying to see this trip abroad as a reward to myself for figuring out the hard stuff. Even while I'm here, I'm keeping contacts and sending out resumes because you never know what can happen if you're persistent and show gratitude to the people who help you figure out the answers to the hard questions of adulthood. Sure, I don't have all of them figured out, but I have enough of them figured out to feel okay.
I learned to dig myself out of holes.
From fighting with University financial aid to learning how to cope with loss of a loved one, I'm more capable of sorting through issues than I was when I was 18. This first point of maturity branches out to all other aspects of my life, and it is what enables me to grind and work through things that, sometimes, I honestly don't want to. Most of the time it's easier to let deadlines pass and long annoying phone calls go undone, but in the long run both that and avoiding confronting your loss will hurt you more emotionally than just biting the bullet.
One of the best and worst parts of getting older is realizing how much you and the world around you have changed. Slowly, I'm learning to embrace it. What makes embracing it easier is knowing that you still have time to see the world and make a whole lot of good out of it, too.
(Also, Part V Pasta Update: ravioli and linguini are great.)
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