A Few Things I Picked up Along the Way

When I first arrived at RDU airport and said goodbye to my loved ones I never in a million years imagined what was ahead of me. I knew studying abroad would be a great experience and that I could use the credits. I figured studying in Italy for the summer would be better than studying in Raleigh for the summer. I knew I would see some amazing things and have a lot of homework. I honestly, for some crazy reason, thought it would be just like any other class; but, I was in for quite the surprise.

Eleven strangers gathered at RDU looking equally ridiculous with our backpacks almost equaling our own size. We all shed a couple tears saying goodbye to our families, but we all eyes dried and cleared to have the same look of going into the unknown.  As our seemingly eternal day of travel progressed we became acquainted with one another and the reality that we were actually doing ‘this’ set in with overwhelming force.  We were actually going to Italy and we were actually going to live there for five weeks.

I have done my fair share of traveling so, long, uncomfortable travel days and jet lag really didn’t faze me. I was prepared for that, I knew that I would be traveling for over twenty-four hours and I knew I would have to adjust to time schedule that was six hours ahead of South-Eastern United States.  What I was not prepared for was the learning the curve. They told me I would have culture shock, homesickness, and an intense amount of homework. I just thought that I would be able to handle it. I did not think it would be easy, but I did not think it would be nearly as difficult as I found it to be. Between the imminent issues that arise when eleven women are living on top of each other, the copious amounts of essays, and not having anything that you can attach to from home it was far more than I had prepared myself for. I must admit there were several days where I thought, “What the heck was I thinking singing up for this? I must be crazy!”  However, my mental state was never better. 

I am the kind of person that if you do not ruffle my nest I will never fly. Studying abroad gave me just the push I needed to grow. I grew in far more ways than I could have ever imagined. This experience forced me to grow as person. I had to deal with social situations when there was no time to separate; there’s nowhere to run and hide in the Palazzo.  I also learned to deal with incredibly quick deadlines. Doing two semester quality classes in five weeks is no easy task. Deadlines come much faster than they do during the regular school year. This has pushed me to grow academically as a student. I never thought I would be capable of finishing all of the work well, but I did!  I learned travel skills that will, no doubt, be employed for the rest of my life. I gained confidence as student and a person, but perhaps best of all I gained a new home and a new family.

When I first arrived in Sansepolcro I thought that it was a very pretty, very quaint little town.  While Sansepolcro is those things it is also home. Every travel break I looked forward to coming home; home to the Palazzo, home to my sisters, our professors, ra’s, and Margharita’s hot lunches.  I looked forward to coming home where I knew the people of the town and they knew me. Where there were familiar faces. I was totally caught off guard by this feeling of home and family.  This was probably the pleasant surprise of all.

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to come here and be a part of the Meredith sisterhood in Sansepolcro. A sisterhood I am certain is just getting started. The benefits far outweigh the cost and I would not trade this experience for gold. I consider it an invaluable step in my journey not only as student, but as a person and I would strongly encourage anyone and everyone to take this leap, push yourself and see the amazing things that you are capable of accomplishing!


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Values re-Evaluated

I have learned a lot through my experience studying abroad. I have grown as a person, a student, a friend, and as member of the global community. While some of the things that I learned may fade away, for example I may not always remember that fragola is Italian for strawberry, I am confident and overwhelming amount of my lessons will stay with me always.

One of the things I learned to value most while in Italy was really learning how to be present in the moment. Life moves at a much slower pace there and I have to admit at first it drove me crazy! But, after a while it clicked for me and I was able to really enjoy each day for what each day held for me.  This is a life skill that not only improved my experience abroad, but also will improve the quality of my life back home.  Another thing that I really learned to value was community connectivity, something I feel America is sorely lacking. When girls talk about Meredith one thing that always comes up is the feeling of connectivity, community, and of family that you feel there. You feel that you are a part of a bigger whole. That is also the feeling I felt in Sansepolcro- which is no doubt why Meredith chose it.  This feeling comes with so much energy and support that it is almost addicting. I will certainly never take for granted the community and family that I have gained at Meredith and in Sansepolcro.

My plan, like all good plans, is fluid. I am not going to hold myself to impossible standards. I know there will be days when I am rushing around with my stress level through the roof and days where I just want to have some alone time. But, that is not to say that I won’t be making a clear and conscious effort to implement these values in my life. I am going to value my time more, realizing that a day spent frazzled and stressed is not necessarily time well spent. Life is fleeting and I want to cease every moment of it. I will also make community a bigger focus in my life. Whether it is my fellow angles or coworkers I want to strive to have a more cohesive bond with the people I am living and working with.  I am sure that I will find more tragedies as I continue on my journey of pulling together the different facets of my life to make the “new me.” In the meantime I will implement my plan while continuing to stay in contact with my study abroad sisters, loving pizza, and being a gelato coinsure. 

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Parks, Piazzas, and Passseajates


Parks, piazzas, passseajate are several things I never thought about or even knew what they were until I arrived in Italy. When I thought of Italy I thought of a long-rich history, art, pasta, pizza, wine, hand gestures, and hair gel but never parks, piazzas, and passseajates. However, I know now it is impossible to consider Italian culture without thinking of these things.  In my two weeks spent in Italy I have been to several different towns and noticed the different uses for these central areas. While we do have parks, plazas, and main streets in America, they are not as prevalent and they do not serve the same amount of social importance.

As an American I believe that when you hear the word park you associate it with a children’s playground, dogs, and people playing Frisbee or riding bikes. In Italy it can be that but, also so much more.  In Sansepolcro I noticed the parks are a place people congregate. There are children, teenagers, young adults, mature adults, all ages and socio-economic classifications that are just hanging out.  Generally speaking, in America parks serve a purpose for a certain amount of time, you play a game of touch football for an hour, ride a bike for an hour, let the children play for a set amount of time but, then you are done.  Here in Italy people casually lounge around in the parks for no certain amount of time with seemingly no real concerns. 

Upon our arrival in Sansepolcro we were immediately introduced to the passseajate in Sansepolcro, Via XX Settembre, and became acquainted with it very quickly because our palazzo is located on this street.  From my understanding the passseajate is the main street in a town that everyone comes and walks up and down and up and down on the weekends.  It is the social activity to take part in to see and be seen.  This was also true in Monterosso al Mare on Lungomare Fegin, since it is a resort town there were people walking up and down the street every night.

Parks, plazas, and main streets serve completely different functions in the states, except for maybe in times past in smaller towns they were treated more like Italians treat them. I must admit I love the role they play in Italian culture and I would love if these places in America functioned more similarly to the way they function here. I feel like they give a greater feeling of inclusion and unity in the community. It gives a common place to socialize and network. Sometimes I feel like America’s extreme individualism hurts us in more ways than we realize. While I absolutely believe it is a great thing to be one’s own individual, sometimes I feel like it overflows into other parts of our society that it shouldn’t  The connectivity and town and country pride I feel from these places is really something special and admirable. 

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