I am writing this on the flight from Heathrow to Chicago, and I have a lot of mixed emotions about the semester coming to an end.
It’s crazy to think that I have lived in Perugia for almost four months. I feel like moments ago, I was stepping off the plane in Rome. At the same time, I feel like I belong in Perugia. When I was in Florence for a day a few weekends ago with my roommates, I was imagining what my time in Italy would have been like if I had chosen Florence over Perugia, and I honestly can’t imagine it. In Perugia, I feel like I am part of a community, not only is my program small, but the city is small enough to feel familiar and authentic, without ever being boring. My roommates and I had fun in Florence, but at the end of the day, we got on the train and said, “I’m glad we’re going home”. That’s what Perugia is, a home.
The last few weeks have been bittersweet for me. I am looking forward to going back to the States– I think everyone is. I am glad that my Christmas present is a plane ticket home for my three-week break. I look forward to celebrating the holidays with my family and friends. I will miss Perugia, but since I’m returning next semester, it’s not really a goodbye for me. Which is good, because I’m not ready to say goodbye.
I did, however, have to say goodbye to all my friends, which is probably the hardest part about my decision to stay both semesters. It will be so strange to be in the same city, at the same school, living in the same apartment, without the people who have shaped my time here so far. I look forward to meeting new people, but my experience will be different from those who are coming in fresh to the spring semester. I will be adjusted to the culture, I will already know what restaurants I like and where everything is in town.
Everyone else will be going through the same things my friends and I did this semester, but this time I won’t be going through it with them. So, I am a little nervous that that will set me apart a bit.
Mostly, I am happy that I get two semesters here because I have the best of both worlds. I am grateful that I am going home. I can see my family, my friends, my horse. I can eat my favorite foods and go to Target (I actually had a dream about shopping at Target the other night, I almost cried). But then, I will be coming back to Perugia to enjoy another semester of Italian food and culture, and travel throughout Italy and Europe. There are still so many places, even in Perugia, that I haven’t explored. Just the past week my friends and I stumbled upon a 5th-century cathedral, the oldest in Perugia. We had never even seen it before! I look forward to going to new restaurants (as well as returning to some of my favorites) and seeing more of the city.
So, although I am sad to say goodbye to my friends, and I’m shocked that the semester went by so fast, I’m ready to be with my family and be home for the holidays. And I’m happy that my second semester will give me more time to live in this place I now call home. I’m excited to meet new people and have more adventures. Ciao, for now, Perugia, see you in the new year!