The more time passes, the more you can learn from looking back.
Exactly one year after I left Italy, and I’m finally able to pin down why I had the experience I did.
Expect Nothing."Studying abroad" is a culture that I didn’t know existed before I left for Italy last fall in September 2012. All I knew was I wanted to try living somewhere else, and see if Europe was a place I could end up after graduation. Turns out, others had (and continue to have) different expectations of their study abroad experiences. They expect to travel (to as many countries as they can…), to take advantage of the drinking age, to take pictures and post them on facebook to make people back home jealous, to eat lots of food, and did I already mention drink lots of alcohol?
I’ve decided there’s nothing wrong with these expectations, they just weren’t mine. And since I went in with such high hopes, my expectations were turned at a 90 degree angle. So no, it wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t make Italian friends, I didn’t see what the life of an italian college student is like, I didn’t see what it’s like to work in Italy, and the list can go on.
BUT. I did become a part of my italian family. I did become conversational in the italian language, I did become a coffee drinker, and I did become more confident with who I am. Which is why I’m here, writing this: I am very ok with the fact that I only visited 3 countries while abroad, 2 of which I’d already been to. I’m very ok with the fact that I didn’t “go hard” every weekend, and preferred strolling through the city and getting a hot chocolate or simply eating dinner with my 65 year old host parents.
To each his own.