Mindful Reflection

Eliza Mikunda Umbra Institute, Italy


September 1, 2018

I have been abroad for a little over a week and I can honestly say it feels like one of the longest weeks of my life. I feel like I have been away from home for months! Perugia is more beautiful than I ever expected, there is a view around every turn, and every building and street is filled with so much history and culture. The little hilltop city has stolen my heart and, with the hills, every day in Perugia is leg day.

One of my assignments from my home school’s study abroad program is to reflect on my days and weeks mindfully. One technique is known as rose, thorn, bud (RTB) method. I must reflect on the thorns (the bad), the roses (the good), and the buds (what I am looking forward to the next day/week). This week feels like a pretty big bush to weed through, but I will try to give a breakdown.

First, the Thorns. Unfortunately, when I was trying to back up my phone before putting in my Italian SIM card, it crashed, and I lost all my pictures and contacts from the past month. Including pictures of my family, friends, and horse back home, as well as pictures from my days in Holland, and my first few days in Perugia. I was devastated, you don’t realize how many memories the pictures hold until they are lost forever (I now have my pictures backed up in iCloud, on Google Images, and I have been regularly downloading them onto my laptop). I am lucky that this mishap happened on the fifth day in Perugia, where I will see most of the things I took pictures of again, and not months in after I have traveled more. Another thorn; the stress that comes with living in a new place with all new people. With the time difference and being so busy, I have barely gotten a chance to talk to my family and friends back home. Occasionally I get overwhelmed with the idea of having to grocery shop, navigate public transport, and travel in a foreign country without the crutch of my parents. But that is a pretty small thorn, as with the help of my peers and Umbra staff, I feel well supported.

The Roses. Nearly everything else that has happened has been a rose. I was worried, before arriving, about making friends. I am always quieter around strangers and I thought it might be difficult to meet people. However, everyone I have met is open and friendly, it feels a bit like freshman year. We are all in the same boat, we are beyond excited, but we all share the confusion and sometimes terror that comes with being in a completely new culture. We are brought closer together by this shared feeling. The city itself is beautiful, getting lost in the winding streets is a pleasure because every dead-end vista has a view. Intensive Italian week was not as evil as it sounds, I learned a lot and even looked forward to the next day of class. I wish I could bring the practice of getting a coffee break in the middle of class, to sip cappuccinos in the piazza, back home to the States.

And finally, the buds. One week down, and so many more to go. I look forward to learning my way around Perugia, so I know exactly where I am going (as much as I enjoy getting lost in the city). I look forward to classes starting next week, I am excited to meet my professors and have a real schedule to stick to. With that, I look forward to getting a schedule for the semester so I can start planning trips. I have met so many people here who want to travel the same way I do, and I look forward to making plans with them! There is so much to look forward to (including slightly cooler weather, this heat really gets to you), and I can’t wait to share with you all how it goes. Fino alla prossima volta, ciao!


Italy Semester