And just like that, it's all over.
[2:50 AM - bags packed and under 50 pounds - leaving in 1 hour - mix of emotions]
It is with equal parts happiness and sadness that I write my final post about living abroad in Rome. I'm sad to leave behind all of the wonderful things I have grown to love about this beautiful place but happy to be going back to the comforts of home.
The first day in Rome I remember getting out at 7:00am (thanks jet lag) and exploring around my home for the next four months. With nowhere in particular to go I simply chose a direction and walked. At one point I came upon an archway. I crossed through the archway and then through a colonnade only to look up and see St. Peter's Basilica reveal itself in that beautiful pink early morning light. It was probably the most amazing moment of my being here. It was then that I realized the magnitude of what this experience would hold. "Wow, I'm in Rome." This realization would come about at random moments many times this semester.
Rome is much more than I ever imagined it to be in both the good and the bad kind of way. Dean Martin sings of a romantic Italy that I only saw a handful of times; a quiet side street hidden in Trastevere, the sound of a lonely accordion in an empty piazza, that rare smile from a barista as he hands you a cappuccino. Rome is an unforgiving place most of the time. The 'glamour of it all' is only occasionally enjoyed...when it's not tourist season, or when you can go a block without breaking an ankle on the cobblestones, or when you're not having to dodge piles of trash, or when you're not almost getting hit by a Vespa. Rome managed to make everyday life a little bit of a challenge.
Of all the things I have learned in these past 17 weeks I would say I learned the least about architecture (if you'll remember, learning about architecture is what I came here to do). No, I learned more things about food, fashion, cars, photography, people, and most importantly myself. Rome gave me the gift of time. Time to think, reflect, dream, play.
In Rome the world was at my fingertips. I 'carpe diem'ed' everyday and drank in everything the city had to offer. It is said that Rome will welcome you when you arrive and forget you when you leave and now I understand. I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to study abroad and it is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. With a few tears in my eyes, it is now time to leave the apartment for the last time, catch my flight to the States, and watch out the window as Rome vanishes into the distance, becoming nothing less than my sweetest memory.
Until we meet again. Ciao Roma.
[A huge 'thank you' to those who kept up with me and my blog. That's a wrap on my time abroad but I'm excited to write about the adventures to come.]