Arrivederci, Roma! I am back in the good old USA. I am so happy so see my family and friends but am missing Italy and all the experiences that I had during my time abroad. This first week home, as amazing and comforting as it was, did present some challenges. Jet lag is the most obvious, of course! More importantly, it has been a challenge for me not to compare things from home to those in Italy. The ways of life differ so much, it is hard not to find and form an opinion on these differences. It is important for me, however, to accept and appreciate those differences and focus more on the changes that I have gone through as an individual and less on the changes in my environment.
I shared my Reincorporation Letter with my parents, just as I shared my Separation Letter. The most important aspect of this exercise was explaining the idea of a healthy reincorporation and what they could do to help. I told them that as much as I may seem to be the same girl who hopped on a plane four months ago, the more we discuss my experience, the more they will see the changes that I have gone through. After I shared my letter, I think all of us felt more comfortable and more able to talk about my study abroad experience in a meaningful way. The quote I chose to share with them that helped to convey the opportunities a healthy reincorporation will allow me was, “The postsojourn process should help us to integrate the experiences and insights from the field into our ongoing academic and personal lives” (Slimbach). I feel like this quote from Slimbach helped to explain that I will be using my experiences in all aspects of my life and not just leaving them in Italy. I feel as though my home community has not yet acknowledged my growth, but I did not expect them to the moment I stepped out of the airport. I have not seen my extended family members yet, but I expect that as I reunite with them and share my stories, they will see that I have grown as an individual through my study abroad experience.
One of the ideas that Slimbach suggested that stood out to me was number six, reduce junk food consumption. I noticed throughout my time in Italy that there was not much processed food. While there were junk food items such as gelato and cannolis, they were made with fresher ingredients than what we can find in the United States. I found that cutting the majority of processed foods out of my diet and replacing it with fresher foods for four months made a big difference in the way I feel. I am going to try to incorporate this change into my life at home, but will definitely sneak a few handfuls of Skittles and a few Twix bars every so often. I am only human! As for other habits that I have at home that changed while I was in Italy, most of them are relatively trivial things, like time spent in the shower. As of now, I do not think I will have any challenges when it comes to habit formation.
The quote I chose that expresses how I feel at this time is, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher. I feel as though this quote pretty much sums up my changes, growth and study abroad experience as a whole.