I am, quite possibly, the biggest homebody in the history of homebodies. While some people might consider seeing their parents once a week suffocating, I consider it a blessing. I am from Natick, Mass., a town about 20 minutes west of Boston College—a perfect distance that allows me to feel the comforting bubble of home in my dorm room. Sitting in the Internet cafe across from the Duomo in Florence, I am mentally listing things, moments, and people I am going to miss in Massachusetts throughout my three months studying abroad.
For starters: I miss my dad picking me up on his way home to grab a quick dinner, my best friend at BC who kindly sends me pictures from storming the field at the USC football game, helping my sister work on her Common Application, jamming to Taylor Swift in the Heights office, eating candy in the SAP office, and Chipotle. Going abroad, as you can see, was one of the scariest, most life-altering decisions I have ever made.
You know that quote about how your life doesn’t really start until you leave your comfort zone? Well, I don’t know if I agree with that. I was living very happily in Chestnut Hill. But, I do know that leaving my comfort zone has forced me to live in the moment. Learning about Italian culture has been incredibly eye-opening, not only because I have learned what this culture expects from its citizens and how inherently proud they are of their country, but also because I have learned more about American culture, specifically the BC culture.
Think about it this way: in Boston, anything goes for the rules of the road. This includes jaywalking for pedestrians. Well, typical Boston girl that I am, I decided that jaywalking in Munich, Germany was A-OK. It wasn’t. Five, yes five, people came running up to me, screaming in thick, scary German accents that jaywalking is a big no-no. Everyone waits for the green walking light. The drivers trust the pedestrians not to walk, and the pedestrians are confident that the drivers will not run them down. Ironically, though, I do not trust this culture as much as I trust the BC community, and because of this I feel vulnerable.
As a foreign woman in a patriarchal, Italian society I have come to appreciate the confidence I feel as a woman at BC. There is a bubble at BC, but I would say that it is a safe bubble. I am finally running into an area that is not a guaranteed safe space for young women, which has not been a problem in Chestnut Hill.
Being cat-called “Shakira” is surprisingly not attractive or enticing, and going for a run is something one can only do in broad daylight, even in the wealthy part of Florence. Walking alone after the sun has gone down is not advised—so imagine this: not being able to walk to White Mountain Creamery to meet friends at night if you are by yourself. It’s a sad thought.
Being in Italy has taught me to slow down and look around, not be so preoccupied with Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. It has taught me to disconnect from technology. I also appreciate having dinner with others again because not everyone is on his or her phones. Using a map to find your way around the city to your art history lecture makes you use more brain cells than just plugging the address into Google Maps. Fast food here is actually not fast, and McDonald’s is not cheap, which makes me a very broke girl. Planning extra time into your day for the little things as well as not cramming your day with a million errands is the norm.
I am not off saving the world like my roommate in Africa is doing, I am not off analyzing the economic structure of South American countries like my other roommate has been doing for six months, but I am learning more about myself, my culture, and the person who I wish to become.
The constant social media, text message, FaceTime world has made me sacrifice those little moments you have where you stop and admire how beautiful Bapst Library is or how delicious late night mozzarella sticks are. I understand that college, including an abroad experience, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. BC allowed me to have this opportunity, specifically to grow and become more independent. Being disconnected will force me to come back to BC with a desire to live for the moment. I miss BC, I miss my family, I miss the comfort of home, but BC will still be there for me in three months. So until then: I miss you all.
Featured Image by Mary Joseph / Senior Staff Writer