The past few weeks have been very bitter sweet. There are only five days left in my program, and next Monday April, 29th I will be flying back to the United States. I have had the time of my life this past semester, and have experienced parts of the world I had only seen in pictures and videos on the internet. At the same time however, as much fun as Europe was, the United States will always be my home and I am excited to get back to the states, see my friends and family, and start working. It was awesome being able to travel to a new country with a different culture, and become accustomed to their cultural habits and customs, some of which I plan on bringing back to the United States.
One of the cultural traits I noticed in Europe that I hope to incorporate in my life back home is the emphasis they place on family, friends and relaxation. I have noticed that often times I become too focused on working hard and don’t allow myself to have time to relax and decompress. I think part of this may just be my personality, but I think another major part of it is the how heavily we value hard work in the United States. I feel blessed to have been born into a culture that places such an emphasis on success and hard work, and I also feel fortunate to have experienced a culture that values happiness over monetary wealth. I think if I can find a perfect balance between working hard to succeed, while still being able to cut myself some slack when I need time to relax, I will be successful in a more holistic manner.
Another trait that I hope to incorporate into my life back in the states is being open to trying new things. While I was abroad, I made an effort to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and experience new cultures and foods that I was reluctant to try. By incorporating this into my life back home, I believe I will grow into a more well rounded individual, and won’t miss out on foods and opportunities that I may have enjoyed but was too hesitant to try.
Although there are many traits that I hope to bring back with me to the US, there are a lot of aspects of American life that I can’t wait to get back to. Drying machines, supermarkets, wide streets, lack of tourists, grass, lakes, huge selections of international food, barbecue… the list goes on. While living in Europe, I realized that I took for granted simple things like having enough electricity to power a drying machine without blowing a fuse, or being able to sit down on a patch of grass in my backyard and play fetch with my dog. These things are obsolete in a city like Florence, and although there were many aspects of Italy I loved, I am also glad to be heading home.
Overall, this past semester has been an incredible eye opening experience that I am very fortunate to have been able to participate in. There will most likely never be another time in my life where I will be living in Europe for four months straight, and I hope I can use this experience and the things I’ve learned from it as a way to grow as a person.