For the first time in my life, I decided to travel abroad for a program my school offers lasting three months. Before I left there were several things I worried that I was leaving behind. This is the longest I have ever been away from home and my first time in Europe. I found out rather quickly how wrong I was about the things I assumed I was giving up.
1.) The privacy of my own room
As a traveler, I thought there would never be a chance to settle into a bed I call my own. However, I have an entire queen size bed and a rather large room. I settled quickly into my apartment and could not be more grateful for its solitude on days when I desperately need to rest and rejuvenate.
2.) A consistent routine
Each day is different back in the states. Waking up, going to the gym, going to class, and coming back to my home looks completely different now. While my schedule is more flexible here, I still wake up every morning and go for a run in the local park or town commons, shower, and grab some sort of coffee/breakfast combo on the way to class. Only now I usually eat a croissant and slurp down a cappuccino or espresso.
3.) My excessive wardrobe
When traveling abroad for several months I assumed there is no such thing as a walk-in closet. However, I came am staying in an apartment with a ginormous wardrobe that is more space than I could ever need. Now I couldn’t bring my entire closet with me, but I have found that I brought just enough. I haven’t even worn everything I brought yet anyway.
4.) Seeing my friends and family every day
I used to see some of my friends almost every day. I usually still see my family each day, except it is typically through a screen. With the power of Wifi and technology, I can still keep in touch with my family like before. Additionally, I do see my friends every day because I have made plenty of friends here in Certaldo.
5.) My diet
As a vegan, I assumed that there would be no options for me here in Italy. However, after grocery shopping, I found out how wrong I was. Italy has a wide variety of food. There are even vegan sections in grocery stores and tons of vegetarian options.
I thought to buy rice vinegar and making tofu key lime pies were times long behind me. However, grocery stores in Italy are fairly similar to grocery stores in America. Each day I make myself lunch which usually includes fresh veggies and pasta. Every weekend I make myself breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nothing has changed. Italian grocery stores are fairly similar to American grocery stores.
7.) Losing my sense of home
Living thousands of miles away at first felt like I left a part of myself somewhere else. I quickly adjusted and learned to think about my new living situation as my home.
8.) Slipping on coffee each morning
While American coffee is hard to come by in Italy I quickly learned to love expresso. Every morning I brew it myself. Expresso is much more temperamental than my American coffee pot at home, but I do like the strong brew it makes. While expresso definitely has a unique Italian flavor, I must prefer Cappuccinos. Almost every morning I head over to Alfreds to spend 1.50 Euros on the perfect cappuccino.
9.) Text Messaging
Downloading Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp has made text messaging completely possible even without a plan from Verizon. My program also gave me a flip-phone that calls to other people in Italy. If I need anything I can give one of my roommates a quick call.
After a few weeks in Italy struggling to speak Italian at supermarkets becomes nothing out of the ordinary. Certaldo Alto became my new temporary home. I feel it is completely normal to adapt to new circumstances, whatever they may be. It might be perhaps that I still spend majority of my time with Americans, but I feel totally at home in Certaldo Alto, Italy.