It’s very cliché to say, but your time studying abroad seems to evaporate before your eyes. One second you feel like you have all the time in the world, the next you are scrambling to visit the Vatican and St. Peter’s basilica before your flight back to the US. I think this visual is the best way to describe my current predicament as the semester winds to a close.
In the last few days, with the Thanksgiving hype having died down, it has come to my attention that I am less than 3 weeks away from flying back to Philadelphia. Only a few more classes before I have to pack up my souvenirs and wrestle with my suitcase to make sure everything gets back home. While I know it will be nice to see my family and friends again, it still comes as a shock that your adventure here is coming to an end. My friends and I have all had different responses to the end of the semester; some are excited, others sad, and many like me have mixed feelings about the whole affair.
(these photos have all been from my recent solo adventure in Antwerp, Belgium)
I want to make the most out of my last few weeks in Italy, so I developed a plan for myself, organizing what the most important places for me left to visit. I have focused a lot of my energy on completing my homework and other assignments during the week so that I have as much free time as possible on the weekends for exploring. Forcing yourself into a schedule can help keep you on track for passing classes, while balancing time for you to say your goodbye to the city you have come to call your home away from home. This planning and strategizing forces you to make decisions about what you really really really want to do before ending your time abroad, making sure that you have had “the full experience”.
For me, I have always had a love for Germany, and one of my best friends since childhood is studying in Munich. So, I scheduled a weekend trip to visit her and get to know Germany better. The end of the semester time-crunch caused me to realize the important parts of exploring the world and that is spending my time free of worry with some great company.
This is also a time when you could fall into a travelling frenzy; when you spend your whole life savings on random trips that everyone told you “you had to go to”. It is important to know your limits (emotionally, financially, and time-wise), and it is important to separate what is important to you and what is important to someone else because you don’t want to spend the last weeks here doing all the things everyone else wants. You should focus on your own aspirations and desires. You don’t want to overload yourself as you enter into finals week either. Italy, and Europe as a whole, are so vast that you wouldn’t be able to experience everything (it’s a sad fact), so don’t set yourself up to the impossible claiming you will see EVERYTHING.
What has been keeping me from falling into a travelling frenzy has been the idea that this will not be the last time I am in Europe. If I remind myself of this in my restless moments, when I want to buy so many plane tickets and tour the world, I am able to constructively tell myself, “I’ll go there next time” or “I’ll take my mom there in a few years”. This makes me excited for the future possibilities rather than depressed about leaving Residence Candia and Temple Rome behind. And the truth is, you will be back to travelling here again. In such a modern and globalized society, it has become so much easier to traverse the world (even on a budget)! So, don’t put yourself down or stress yourself out by saying “This will be your only time for experiencing new things”. As they say, “All roads lead to Rome”, and they will lead you back here again.