Today I'm feeling a bit like an antsy student in a Friday afternoon B quad class. The sun is out, my brain is with it and my focus is... well, unfocused.
I've been ruminating about how to share all of my Italy experiences with you and I've come to the conclusion that instead of just pictures, I really should start telling some stories along with them. You can't truly appreciate what this last visit there meant to me if you have no knowledge of my first memories there. So I will do my best at trying to give you a glimpse at what it looked like then and how it appears now and the life time it feels I've lived in between those visits.
From the moment I started looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to do a semester abroad. My college choices were narrowed down largely based on their "study abroad" programs. If they didn't have one or it was very small, they were off the list. I'm not sure when I decided on Italy, but it was early on in the process. While Wheaton did not have program going to Italy, I found Gordon College did. I had no idea at the time that picking Gordon, who had a program in Oriveto, would end up giving me such a unique experience as opposed to a program set up in Rome or Florence. I liken it to studying in NYC vs a small town in rural America. I'm not saying one is better than another... just totally different.
Sometime during the spring semester of my sophomore year I was accepted into Gordon's program for the following fall. I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to go and experience all the stereotypical things you think of when you envision Italy... food, ancient ruins, quaint shops, another language etc. Having never lived outside the country I had no inclination of how things would actually end up transpiring. While some daydreams played out nearly by the book, others were so far off the mark I had a hard time believing I'd been so off base (read as: naive).
The anticipation of my semester abroad pushed me through that spring semester. I was ready to go and have my Sabrina moment, just in Italy, not Paris. She went over there a little nerdy girl and came back this sophisticated woman! I would be untethered and free to experience it to its fullest.
HA. Oh was I ever wrong.
Towards the end of spring semester it became blatantly clear (no matter how much I tried to deny it) that I was falling for a guy. Let me correct myself. I was fallen. I fell. I was down for the count. In the beginning I had tried to say "I'm going to Italy, I don't want to be attached." But the more time we spent together and the closer we got to summer, it was evident that I would be leaving for Italy that coming fall, but my spirit was going to be wishing I was still in Wheaton.
And so my vision of what Italy would be was already changing before I even stepped foot off the plane.
(more to come next week...)