Well, it has been a crazy first week here and Lugano and I really am falling in love with the place. Ignoring the nausea from the plane ride I could tell from the get go that this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Every street I turn down looks like it would make for the perfect post card home. I am thrilled to be here but I really don’t think I have fully separated from home yet, and I am not sure if I ever will.
I would say that mentally I am 80% in Lugano and 20% back home, thinking about my girlfriend and my family. Sometimes I get jealous of the people that went and studied abroad before technology and weren’t always concerned with constant communication (or online courses). However, having some communication home is healthy and I am able to recognize that it puts my loved ones at ease knowing I am safe and sound and I did realize that this is what the separation process would be like. It also helps to be busy, this way I don’t feel any guilt for not answering texts, I can be involved in what I am doing, and I have something to talk about when I am texting whoever. I really do feel at my best when I am busy and concentrated at the task at hand because I can be an overthinker and I would much rather be doing something.
The communitas here at Franklin has truly been great. Everybody made friends with everybody else in the orientation group and it really makes it easy to find people to do things with. I know after the first night several students wanted to go home because the flight here was horrible and the first day was way too busy, but other people in the group were able to talk them out of it and now it appears everybody is having a good time. I do think I picked a great group of kids to be a part of communitas with as they want to travel and do things rather than sit in their rooms, something that seems some four year students here are interested in, and we already did a 10 mile hike and have gone and seen parts of town that other students haven’t. One of my big fears with the group is doing to much and not taking advantage of what Lugano has to offer, because they do hope to travel every weekend. I’ll be sure to give myself time to think and analyze where I am at but I am more than happy staying as busy as possible for the first week or so, I really want to make sure I am thrown into the culture of Lugano.
There were several challenges that I faced on the way here, and like some of the other students I considered going home on that first night. What it really came down to though was travel anxiety. I hated everything about the flight and the thought of having no control was terrifying for me. That first night I could not imagine going and traveling to all these places because I would have to walk, run, or bike there in order to make it without having a panic attack. This is very uncharacteristic of me and up until a few days before going I didn’t even consider it. I think this will be a major obstacle to overcome for me in the coming months and it is something I hope I can conquer.
Like I said above, I am really trying to involve myself with the Lugano culture. The best way to do this so far has been going out to eat, which is exciting by itself, but talking to waiters and seeing how other people act while we are there has been a great experience. I love standing in a spot and doing some people watching, it is strange to see how different people act in this city versus New York City. One thing I can’t wait for is the weather to warm up so I can start running. My Italian professor told the class about these little old ladies who go out for their morning walks before 9:00 every morning and they are the best people to talk to because they are patient and yearning for someone to communicate with. So I will try to get out as often as I can to talk to these women and hear some stories, and the running won’t hurt either.