Anyone who has seen me recently knows that the past two weeks have been filled with an enormous amount of stress and anxiety. This may seem like a rather dark way to begin my first blog post, but there is a happy ending, I promise! But first, some context. About six days before I was supposed to leave for Rome, I found out that my passport and visa had been lost in the mail. Cue panic. For the next few days, my mom and I travelled around New Jersey (where I go to school) on what felt like a wild goose chase. We went from post office to post office, attempting to recover the missing passport. After no success, we decided to accept the fact that I would not be leaving for Rome on time.
After we accepted the situation, what followed can only be described as absolute grace. During the time I spent trying to obtain a new passport and visa, I was shown such incredible support and kindness from everyone around me. Everyone who was involved in the process—friends, family, officials, and administrators—made the entire process so easy. I was able to get a new passport in 5 hours, a new visa in a day, and a new plane ticket in 30 minutes. In addition, my professors from school were extremely gracious and flexible in allowing me to rearrange my work schedule. At my school, we take our fall semester finals after break, so on top of figuring out how to leave the country, I was also figuring out how to pass my classes… I wasn’t lying when I said these past two weeks were stressful!!
When I think about all that happened before I could make it to Rome, I understand that it needed to happen, and in a way, was a small blessing in disguise. Of course, it wasn’t fun to pay for all the last-minute changes and expedited fees, etc., but there is something to be said for being completely broken down. I feel like everything that could go wrong went wrong, and I became stronger for it. I was completely broken down to a place of humility, where I had to accept things one day, heck even one minute, at a time, and that is a very interesting position to be in. But as such, I truly believe that all this crazy happened for the sake of reminding me to slow down and be still. I was so caught up in the stress of things that I hadn’t even processed the fact that I was going to be living in Rome. Rome! I hadn’t stopped to pause, admire, and be thankful about that. I have been given this opportunity to immerse myself fully in another culture, and I wasn’t celebrating that, which is crazy, because there is so much to celebrate!!
And now I’m here! I’ve made it, at last. I may have missed Orientation Week, but that just meant that I was to dive headfirst right into things. Knowing absolutely no Italian, I have spent the last week blubbering my way around, butchering almost every word, and accidentally letting my Spanish vocabulary slip through at times. But, I am confident that things can only go up from here. I had my first Italian class this week, and just now, I successfully ordered a glass of wine in Italian: “Un bicchiere di vino bianco”! To be fair, I guess that might be one of the easier phrases to say, but we’ll just celebrate this tiny success for now…
As the first week of classes comes to an end, I can only look back and smile about what has happened this week. In just a matter of a few days, I have visited the Umbrian countryside, learned to navigate the bus system, made my way through an Italian grocery store, and accidentally purchased (and used) bath soap that I thought was lotion. So far, no complaints— except, I still keep getting lost trying to find the Colosseum!! That’ll be next week’s mission. But for now, I am content, and remembering to be still and celebrate.