Florence 2022 Florence, Italy MSMU Travels

Saying goodbye to the trip of a lifetime

“All good things must come to an end,” they say. Having to leave Italy after living there for three months really made that statement hit home. Those three months went by in the blink of an eye, and I’m having a difficult time believing that it was real and not an amazing dream. 

Out of everything we did, out of all the traveling and gelato and other delicious foods, it’s hard to decide what was my favorite part: honestly, I don’t think I can pick a single favorite thing. Even as I write this, I’m trying to sift through all the memories to find a single one that might have been my favorite. But as soon as I find something, another one replaces it. It’s an endless cycle, and one that I know won’t end anytime soon when I think of my adventures in Italy. 

I almost just wrote about the first things that came to mind (gelato, the friends I made, and traveling), but then I ended up practically writing an essay on why I loved the traveling part. With that said, I realized after writing about it that traveling was my favorite part of the trip, both just to Italy and also all around the country. 

Being able to travel to Italy, in general, was so awesome, and I’m at a loss for words to describe how thankful I am to have been given the chance to do so. Most people only travel for a week or two, but I called Italy my home for three months. I saw more of the world than I thought I could ever see in my entire life, and it’s an experience that will never be topped by anything else. I saw so many famous pieces of artwork, watched an opera, traveled by train, went on a jet ski, and so much more

Honestly, after thinking about it, I think that getting to travel to and around Italy was my favorite part. I mean, how many people my age can say they did that? It was the experience of a lifetime and if I could do it all over again there isn’t a single thing I would change or do differently. I wish I could have recorded every second of every day so I can watch it and relive it all. 

Unfortunately, technology is not yet so advanced. Instead, I’ll have to settle for the hundreds of photos, memories in my head, and all the blogs I wrote. Being able to blog about the trip was good, I think, because it was an easy way to write about what we’d done during the week. 

I tried to keep a journal to write in, but I only managed a couple entries before I forgot to write more. With the blogs, however, I had to write them for an assignment so it was much easier to remember to set aside some time to complete them. Now, I can come back to them later to read and enjoy remembering the things we did in Italy. 

I know mostly friends and family read these blogs, but regardless of whoever may have seen them, I hope at least one thing was taken away: if you ever have the chance to travel, take it. Do it. My anxiety nearly took control of me and I was so close to changing my mind about going. 

I was worried about everything there was to be worried about: having to figure out what to pack and what not to pack, the flight to Italy being only my second time flying, having to deal with culture shocks, being robbed or attacked, not being able to communicate with the locals, not making enough friends, not eating enough, not having fun…the list just goes on and on. 

But, no matter how tight a grip my anxiety had on me, I knew that if I let it win and stayed home, it would become the thing I’d regret most in my life. Looking back on everything I did, I’m glad I forced myself out of my comfort zone. Not only did I make amazing memories, but my mental health has greatly improved.

As you can probably guess already, I have struggled endlessly with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’ve managed to deal with it for the most part, but being in Italy and having to do so many things that make me feel uneasy because they’re new and I didn’t know what to expect? It’s helped me get much better control over my issues.

I’ve only been home for a few days, but already I’ve noticed the difference. This week I’ve been able to do things with no issue, whereas three months ago my anxiety would have made me lock up in fear. The realization of it made me feel so incredibly happy and proud of how far I’ve come with my mental health. 

I’m always going to miss everything about Italy, but I know it couldn’t have lasted forever. I learned so many lessons during my time there and now I have to use those lessons here at home. I never would have gotten to this point if I hadn’t taken that first step of getting on that plane at Dulles to go to Florence, Italy. 

That step might seem small to others, but for me, it was the biggest one I have ever taken. That giant step was also the best decision I’d ever made. I might not have had a huge impact on Italy, but Italy changed me for the better. 

And I can’t wait to see what I do next. 

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