Change

So far, studying abroad has been the biggest emotional rollercoaster in my life. What started as an incredible adventure from the moment I stepped onto my flight leaving Newark into the unknown, has turned into a severe outbreak of every possible sensation I could imagine. The final result was misery, an endless reoccurrence of being ill and an overwhelming feeling of loneliness like I never imagined could be possible. As I am unfortunately the type of person whose daily feelings outwardly affect the way I act, the consequence was that I unconsciously turned my study abroad to sulking abroad.

One weekend I was lucky enough to temporarily break out of my study abroad blues when I had a visit from my dad. I still did not feel like doing much, for his presence, although relieving, was a constant reminder of home; however, together we took a trip to Naples. For the second day, we booked a tour through a travel company that would take us to Pompeii. Personally, I wanted to go on our own so we could wander the city at our own leisure and leave when we wanted; however, I agreed to do the tour. With our decision made and the tour booked the next morning, we boarded the tour van and began our journey into the city of ruins.

Everything was going a lot better than I expected, the white marble of the ruins up against the clear blue sky pierced my eyes and made me feel as if I entered a whole new world.

I was even able to take my mind off of the fact that I missed home severely. Then came the surprise that neither my father nor I expected. As we approached the end of our walking tour, the guide announced that our next stop was to climb to the top of Mt. Vesuvius. I exchanged a look of surprise with my dad who I knew was thinking the same thing I was: we should have read the details of the tour before hand. I have never climbed a mountain before; in fact, I do not believe I have ever even seen a mountain in person until this trip. Obviously, I was nervous but we once again got in the van and began a completely unexpected journey towards the dominant, insurmountable object in the distance.

The van drove us to the highest parking point and then let us off to make our own individual trips to the summit. After about half an hour of climbing, an incline that made our thighs burn, and ridiculous gusts of wind that not only blew dust into my eyes but also blew me into the sides of the mountain, we made it to the top. Overlooking the small cities that surrounded the Bay of Naples, I couldn’t help but feel accomplished. The sun was delicately reflected on the water that seemed perfectly peaceful from the top of the mountain and the tiny cities that seemed so impossible to conquer down below appeared to be trivial and unimportant. In that moment, I finally understood what travel was supposed to do; it was supposed to make you forget about the past and live in the moment instead of forgetting what you left behind.

For many, it sounds like only a minor insight into what they already knew coming into study abroad, but for me, it meant much more. Whether it was sitting perched on the top of the mountain or the fact that I finally got to share a moment with someone, it made me feel invincible. I did not realize it then, but this experience gave me the courage to continue living in Italy, rather then wasting my time missing the past. Maybe it’s only a minor change, but now every time I am offered an opportunity, I will think with a smile: ”Well, if I stood on the top of a mountain, there is nothing I cannot do.”

Melissa Calato is a student at Wagner College and an official API Student Blogger. Melissa is studying abroad with API in Florence, Italy.

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Comments

  1. Hi Melissa!
    I just thought I’d drop a line to let you know that you’re not the only one who “sulked” abroad. i have struggled with depression for most of my life and until very recently, it weighed so heavily on me all the time that I had little desire to do anything. Also, well done on climbing the mountain and embracing the unexpected! It may not mean a lot to some people, but I for one understand very well how the smallest insight can lead to huge changes – both emotional and practical. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Italy!
    Besoss from Barcelona, Tye

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