Our time in Rome is rapidly, rapidly coming to a close. It’s honestly been a bit much to handle. There will be moments when it feels very real and scary, and then other moments when I completely forget that I won’t be staying here forever. I think my brain likes to choose the latter option, the one where I forget I won’t be here forever. At the moment, reality is too difficult to face, so I think my mind is forgetting about all the sad things that are coming soon. If you have ever studied abroad or spent a considerable amount of time in a foreign place, I’m sure you have felt exactly what I’m feeling now, and I think we can both agree that these feelings are not fun. But, I don’t think that our last moments in Rome should be spent in sadness. As complicated as it may sound, I do think there is a way to be in touch with the present, while reminiscing about the past, and looking ahead to the future. It’s a delicate balance, but I think I’m making it work! So, for this post, I thought I’d share some tips on how I’m coping with having to leave so soon.
As you may have read from my other blog post, this week is finals period, which means that students have been cooped up in the library, studying and finishing final research projects. In the midst of all this studying, I recommend that you build in breaks for yourself. Use these breaks to get out of the library, and go walk around! Go enjoy your favorite spots in Rome: go to your favorite pizza place, sit in your favorite piazza, whatever. Just make sure you get outside! Also, gelato. At least once a day. This suggestion might be a bit more superficial, but hey, we’ve only got a short time left, and when is ice cream ever going to taste this good again?!
Throughout your studying, take at least some time during the day for yourself. Take a step away from the books, and take time to reflect. Finals period is a crazy time where our bodies are in a sort-of robot state, glued to our books. Make sure you take time to reflect on your experiences in Rome, and look back at where you were at the beginning of the program compared to now. You don’t want to leave Rome in a rushed state of being, so take things slow.
Third, make sure to do the little things that you’ll miss. For me, an example of this is cooking meals in my apartment. I know that some of my fondest and most peaceful memories in Rome will be the times I spent cooking; it is my happy time, and it’s when I feel most content. I will miss cutting bell peppers and spinach while the noise of the streets filters through my balcony window, because it’s these sort of moments where I feel most connected to Rome, and where I feel like I am living an authentic life here. It might sound ridiculous, but it’s true- it’s the little things! Also, make a list and be sure to say goodbye to the Italians you have befriended. It’s sad to do, but at the same time cool to see how we’ve built a little world for ourselves.
Last but not least, start making plans for how you’re going to keep the spirit of Rome alive once you return to the States. Think about Italian cultural customs you want to bring back with you, and think about how you can blend Italian living in with your American lifestyle. Also, think about how you’re going to stay in touch with Temple Rome people! My professor Dr. Hersch is already making plans for “Philly Fridays,” which will be a monthly gathering for Temple Rome students. I’m glad I only go to school an hour away, so I’ll be able to join in easily! I know it will be weird not to be in Rome with everyone anymore, but I know for sure that I’ll be seeing a lot of people again soon. It is very very weird that I am leaving soon, but I’m trying to make the most of it. I know the real emotions will hit once I start packing—I guess that’s why I haven’t started yet! But for now, I’m embracing each moment as it comes, staying mindful of what’s ahead, but focused on enjoying the present.