It is so strange to leave. I kind of anticipated that I would feel something like this, but there was no way of imagining just how it feels to carve a new life for yourself in a totally new place, and to stay there and get all comfortable and adjusted and happy, and then to return to the old place that is exactly how it was when you left it. You've changed, but home hasn't. I just can't seem to process that yet.
One thing's for sure - saying goodbye in Venezia was no easier than Tuscania or Roma. Maybe it was harder. Last night, we made a massive farewell dinner at the school. Our history teacher (the Muranese/Veneziana I mentioned before), helped us with preparing the meal, and then we all ate together out on the terrace - me, the other five students in the program, our advisor, teachers, and other friends from the school. I think it might have been my favorite meal while abroad - and this is REALLY saying something - because the company was just that warm and fun and special. All night we were talking (in a funny little blend of English and Italian that we like to call Itanglish) and laughing and joking and just enjoying the brief time that we had remaining together. Saying goodbye to all of the people who were so kind and hospitable and welcoming was tough. They taught me so much in the time I was here - about their city, their culture, and about life in general. Again I realized how little stands between people from different places or different situations. Whether you're from Mexico, Belarus, Italy, or the U.S. of A., it's all the same. You love, you fight, you laugh, you cry. And you can communicate and connect with other people about all of these things, even without a common language.
Most importantly, I think I learned something from every single person that I met over the last few months. I think about my life before I knew them, and I think about my life now that we've encountered each other and helped shape each other's lives, even if was just briefly. This is what I think I value most from this entire experience, from the opportunity to travel and to study and to immerse myself in another culture. I most value all of the people I encountered who all taught me something in their own ways. It makes me open to continue to travel and move and encounter even more new people in the future, to learn from and to connect with.
Well, United States, a domani.... And Italia, allora - ci vediamo.