Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Post Italy

I know it has been quite some time since my last post, but i'll spare you with how busy i've been and all that blah blah because life gets crazy, and we all know that.

But Anyways... Let's get to the point. Tomorrow is thanksgiving and when reflecting on things that i'm grateful for my experience in Milan, Italy tops everything. 

Here I am.... 

Six months ago I was unknowingly preparing for the best experiences of my life. I knew I would have an amazing experience but I could never have imagined what my time abroad held in store. 

I can't even believe that it has already been that long since I was about to embark on the best adventure of my life thus far. I also can't even begin to describe how much I miss it. All of the things that annoyed me while I was there have gone up in smoke... to be honest I don't remember what most of them were and what I do seem fickle and insignificant compared to the incredible things that I experienced. 

I will always have a special place for Italy in my heart. I can't help but love the eccentric people and culture there and I know someday I will be back!  

I know this is probably going to be a weird, vague, sentimental post but it is really the only way I know how to begin to express what studying abroad was for me. 

I had expectations, as I think anyone does about.. well anything that they've planned for and put a lot effort towards. But, I have learned that rarely do expectations equal your experience and how can they when you jump into something that you have such little experience with. 

I expected to see all of the sights, and be a traveling maniac. Which I was. What I didn't expect was to come home and remember the little moments, as the defining moment of my time abroad. The little moments where I learned about myself. The things I gained from studying abroad weren't the things I expected at all. I expected to come home with a memory card full of amazing places, a bag full of beautiful things, and checks of the bucket list. What I came home with was surprising, but of much more worth. Not only did I come home with the pictures, and the scarves, and the everlasting memories but I came home with gratitude, tolerance, love, friendship, most of all perspective. I know it's about as cheesy as it gets but it's true. 

Not once in my life did I miss or appreciate my family so much. I love them. When you're out in the world by yourself, you realize how much family means. I don't want to ever take my family for granted. I would write in my journal and no matter what had happened to me that day I usually wound up writing about how much I appreciated and loved my family, especially my dad. 

The people that I would never have guessed became close friends. The trips that I planned became exceptional because of spontaneous moments that blew me away or the random people that I would have a laugh with. Submitting myself to varieties of cultures and people gave me a different perspective on my own life and the things that I value. I learned more about what I want to accomplish in my life than I ever have in a classroom. 

Potential Study Abroader's

I have heard people say that some experiences aren't for everyone, and maybe they aren't. But to those who are considering studying abroad. GO. It was all worth everything I had to do to get there. The money, the time spent filling out applications and visas, the stress, taking a fifth year in school, being pushed from my comfort zone, culture shock. All of it. There isn't one thing I regret about making the decision to study abroad and making it happen. The experience that you will have will be your own, and incomparable to anyone else's experience even those in your same program. It is the time in your life to be selfish, reflect on who you are and what you want. Find what you like and what you don't, get to know yourself. 

I'm not saying that it's perfect, or that it's easy. Life never is. What I am saying is that although you will experience difficulties; you will miss home, your friends, your family, your dog... etc. it is an experience that forces you to grow and in a way that I don't know is possible unless you are away from almost everything that is familiar. You will love it and you will hate it. But let's be honest you will mostly love it. 

If I could have told myself 6 months ago anything, I would tell myself to go into every situation with an open mind, make friends and connection with everyone that you can. Never waste a day, be spontaneous. Be YOU. Be the girl from Utah who rides horses, loves to laugh and be independent. Undoubtedly, these are all things that people had mentioned to me before I left and I wished that I had paid more attention.   

I know that my experience has changed me, and for the better. I am grateful for all of the opportunities I had to live the way that I did for those 6 months. I'm thankful for my family and friends who supported me and knew how important this was to me. 

Culture Shock

 Adjustment to life back in the states hasn't been what I thought. And honestly I feel as if i'm still adjusting. I don't remember the shock in Italy, maybe because I was so awestruck and excited but I definitely feel that the adjustment has been more difficult coming home. I realize that it's probably because i'm trying to fit back into my old mold but i'm not the same Rachel I was before I left. My perspective has changed and it's difficult for me to find out how I need to redirect my life in a way that I feel is meaningful. I am getting a little stir crazy, and miss the freedom I had in Italy constantly. I'm still trying to figure out that fine line of work, school, and living life. 

I don't know what I want, or where I'm going for certain but I'm trying to enjoy figuring it all out. 

"You don't need to have it all figured out to move forward."

Thanks to everyone who made those 6 months amazing!

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