My semester in Siracusa, Sicilia is over. The last couple of weeks were a mixture of excitement and melancholy. We were excited to go home but sad to leave the friends we have made this semester. I had some goals this semester. Some goals required an action like climbing into the fountain of Diana or riding on the back of a Vespa. Other goals were personal. I wanted to grow from my experience, not in any particular way, just grow in some way. Although I was not able to go into the fountain, I did take the best ride of my life on a Vespa and I did grow a lot.
Never would I have had this kind of experience on any other study abroad trip. The fact that our school had only nine people allowed me to open up in a way I had never done before. I went to high school at a large public school, then went to college at a fairly large University. Never have I had this kind of personal and intimate relationship in a school, not only with the students but with the teachers as well. I also have never acquired so many nicknames in my life. I was called Virgy Ants, Pippi (calzelunghe), Sausterman, Sosterman, Bear, Orso/Orsi, and my personal favorite, Jubelberry. With this atmosphere I was able to open up more than I would have say in a program located in Rome with 15,000 other kids. This was true for others in the program as well. At first we were all in a little shell, but four months together we learned all of our secrets and we got to know each other really well, too well at times. I definitely gained more confidence by being here. There were also some rough times, there always are. My personal relationships had some bumps, but I grew from the bad times as well. My roommates were not the best people in the world. We had our fights, we grew from them. I definitely had to come out of my shell to deal with people in that apartment, which in a way was what I needed.
Not only was the school close and intimate, but the town of Ortigia was as well, which made this program worthwhile. Unlike larger cities like Madrid, Spain or Rome and Florence, Siracusa was a small town where the locals knew us. I met several local friends. I was a familiar face at the market, the sandwich shop we ate at everyday, the caffe across the street, the gelateria, and the bar we went to at night. I feel closeness to Siracusa that other people who studied abroad could not have experienced. For this I am really glad I chose this program. I will miss this city a lot. Right now I am spending two weeks on the main land of Italy and I already miss my little town of Siracusa. In Rome I stayed with a family that expressed detest for Sicily and I was offended. Sicily is beautiful and I have grown to have patriotism for the Island more than my own country. Overall I am very happy I studied there and know I will miss my friends and the Island immensely.